Exposing Child soldiering in Colombia By: William C.

Gann A war has been raging in Colombia over natural resources over the past 40 years. Two major opposition groups have been involved in this war, The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC) and the National Liberation Army (Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional, ELN). FARC has been charged on many occasions with human rights violations, especially against children. However, the ELN is not without blame either. This group has employed the use of small children in various instances. Also, a third group known as the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, AUC) which was demobilized between 2003 and 2006, although some units did not fully demobilize, are known for using child soldiers. Children are mostly used to lay mines and explosives, gather intelligence, massacre groups of people, and are deployed various other military tasks. Nearly a quarter of the known child soldiers in Colombia are girls, and many are subjected to abuse such as rape and forced abortions. Throughout many years, the government attempted to have many peace talks with the FARC and ELN, only to have their plans ruined. In December 2005, peace talks were initiated. These lasted until June 2007, when eleven hostages taken from the FARC were shot and killed. Another occasion was when peace talks with the FARC were held off due to the government accusing the FARC of a car bombing that destroyed a military school in 2006. There were laws in place that had been created in 1997 that made the conscription age 18. However, in 2005, the government declared the minors could be recruited with parental consent.

this memo sent a clear message to all governments using child soldiers that they won’t be penalized too harshly. .S aid to continue being sent to four countries that are known for using child soldiers. This new law. in 2010. allowed 16 year olds to train with the air force. This has caused uproar in the Human Rights community. These and other programs were put in place to “familiarize children with the war dynamic”. Although none of the four countries mentioned was Colombia. and 17 year olds train as noncommissioned officers in the infantry.These children would be allowed to train and participate in military exercises. causing many members to react with concern and surprise. It seems that children are being taken and used on all sides of the war. saying that this gives child using governments the wrong message. Obama granted a waiver that allowed U. which was contradictory to many laws that were already in place against the use of children in military tasks. In more recent news. and would be sent to special secondary schools.