Colombia’s FARC rebels will soon provide the government with details of the locations of the child soldiers within their ranks according to a statement made by the High Commissioner for Peace on Tuesday.
Sergio Jaramillo confirmed after a meeting with the FARC’s Felix Antonio Muñoz Lascarro, alias “Pastor Alape” that the rebels will supply the government with the necessary information to facilitate the handing over of minors within the group in the coming days, reported RCN Radio.
“The commitment remains by the FARC and in particular by ‘Pastor Alap’e to restart the departure of the minors according to what we agreed in the deal in May of last year whereby they will soon give us the places where receiving points can be established ,” Jaramillo said.
The announcement comes a week after Jaramillo launched a scathing attack on the FARC for their tardiness in complying a pact agreed on May 15 last year to remove all minors from the guerrilla ranks telling the media that the armed group is “indebted to the country” and “have not moved as quickly as they should have done” in relation to the release of minors.
The pact regarding the release of child soldiers will see them turned over to authorities who will facilitate their reintegration into civilian life, which was also recorded in the revised peace agreement signed on November 24.
In the accounts of the Peace Commissioner, the FARC have just released 13 minors, whom were freed on September 11 last year reported El Tiempo newspaper while FARC leader Rodrigo Londoño aka “Timochenko” told W Radio this week that there are 23 remaining in the ranks of the Marxist guerrillas.
In May last year however, Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas announced that “170 children who are in the hands of the FARC will be delivered with the collaboration of UNICEF,” a claim that has yet to be fulfilled.
The United Nations’ children’s organization UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration will supervise the minors’ abandonment of the FARC and their reintegration to their families and society in general.
In a statement released to the media by UNICEF, it called on the FARC to immediately advance the process of removing the minors from its ranks.
“UNICEF reiterates that no child should be part of any type of conflict or violence and urges the country to continue making progress in the implementation of humanitarian confidence building measures,” said the agency’s representative Roberto De Bernardi.
Child soldiers of 15 and under will be surrendered to Colombia’s Family Welfare Agency while those of 16 and 17 will go through a transitional justice system that will be put in place at the event of a peace deal.
This transitional Justice system will pardon all minors not accused of human rights violations and allow lowered sentences for minors who did commit war crimes like homicide or rape.
The FARC has long been criticized for the use of minors in the war against the state they’ve been waging since 1964.
The use of child soldiers under 15 is a violation of international humanitarian law and possibly one of the most common war crimes committed by the guerrillas in their half-a-century existence.