Colombia’s Inspector General denounced dissident rebel groups, who have rejected the FARC‘s peace agreement with the government, of reported forced recruitment of child soldiers.
At an event for victims of the armed conflict, the Inspector General Fernando Carrillo condemned the dissident FARC rebels for claims that they have continued the practice of forced recruitment of minors, which was one of the most common war crimes committed by the guerrillas during its half-century war with the state.
Carillo said that child recruitment was one of the most complex points of the peace agreement and that it would be necessary for the government to take measures to protect the rights of minors who continue to find themselves involved in armed conflict.
This is regrettable and it is an enormous challenge.
Inspector General Fernando Carrillo
The Inspector General also called on the FARC commanders who are taking part in the peace process to hand over the remaining children who were recruited into their ranks in the last few years.
According to RCN, Carrillo was responding to a declaration by FARC commander Marcos Calarca who reportedly said, “the few minors [who still remain with the FARC], have passed to civilian life, which means there is no reason to take them somewhere else.”
Previously, the FARC had announced that it would release all minors in their ranks to the competent authorities ahead of a possible peace deal.
Although recruitment of child soldiers under 15 is a violation of international humanitarian law, almost 12,000 minors are believed to have been illegally recruited into the armed conflict by the guerrilla between 1975 and 2014.
When the FARC commanders signed a peace agreement with the Colombian government in September last year, they committed to abandoning the clandestine territorial control and its involvement in illegal economies such as drug trafficking and illegal mining.
However, similar to a peace process with country’s paramilitary groups ten years earlier, various mid-level commanders from FARC have broken away from the main organization, vowing to maintain the guerrillas’ Marxist ideology and armed struggle while also profiting from the rebels’ traditional illicit activities.
The splinter groups have solidified to the point they have become identifiable as groups, jointly suspected of having more than 500 members.