Colombian rebel group FARC said on Monday it is waiting for government safety protocols to release soldiers younger than 15 from their ranks.
After initiating peace talks in November 2012, the group had already stop the recruitment of minors who are 17 and younger. However, the group has so far been quiet on what it plans to do with its currently active child soldiers.
The release of child soldiers would be the group’s first mass demobilization of fighters and take place ahead of the signing of an eventual peace deal that is currently being negotiated with the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos.
Causes of the conflict
In an internet radio broadcast, the guerrilla group promised “the surrender of minors under 15 that are hiding in their camps.”
“We hope to concrete the necessary protocols to fulfill this promise with the government delehation when on June 17 the [new negotiation] round begins,” the guerrilla radio station said.
The use of fighters under 16 is considered a war crime by international humanitarian law.
Thousands of minors are suspected of fighting for the FARC, meaning the release of all minors would consist of a major diminishing of the group’s fighting force.
The FARC and government delegates have been negotiating peace since November 2012. Since then, partial accords were reached on rural reform, political participation and the rebels’ abandonment of drug trafficking activities that have financed the organization for decades.