Police acted on anonymous tips from educators in several villages who reported that children between the ages of ten and 16 were being persuaded to join the ranks of Colombia’s largest guerrilla group.
According to authorities, members of the FARC arrived in the area May 13 and actively recruited children from nearby schools, violating international humanitarian law.
The Colombian Family Welfare Insititute (ICBF), based in Mocoa, the capital of Putumayo, sent a committee to the remote municipality of Puerto Guzman to verify the allegations, according to ICBF’s director Diego Molano.
“It is evident that children are being recruited in this area,” he admitted. He also revealed that in 120 municipalities in 20 different departments, there is a high risk of children being recruited by illegal armed groups, like the FARC and other criminal organizations.
The prosecutor delegate for Children and Adolescents, Ilva Miriam Hoyos, requested that the national government include a section on child soldiers in its historic Victim’s Law legislation, which seeks to provide compensation to victims of the country’s longstanding armed conflict. She expressed hope that government officials could determine the exact number of minors working within the ranks of illegal armed groups.
In a report on child soldiers, the UN revealed that there were 343 children recruited to illegal groups in Colombia between January 2009 and August 2011.