Democratic Republic of Congo: Children at war

Democratic Republic of Congo: Children at war

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Index Number: AFR 62/034/2003
Date Published: 8 September 2003
Categories: Africa, Democratic Republic Of Congo

Seven years of almost continuous war in the Democratic Republic of Congo have led to the death of over three million people since 1998 alone, most of them civilian men, women and children. This report focuses in particular on the widespread and systematic use of children as combatants by all warring parties. The DRC has one of the world's largest numbers of child soldiers. The ruthless exploitation of children by the leaders of armed forces to further their own material and political ends stands out as one of the most grotesque human rights abuses of this entire conflict. In recent years, the international community has undertaken several initiatives to highlight the illegality and immorality of recruiting and using children. It has worked to strengthen international legal standards, and has established monitoring and reporting procedures to gather data on the phenomena. Amnesty International contends that in order to counter the culture of impunity surrounding child recruitment and discourage child recruitment and use in the DRC, such information collected on child recruitment and use must be acted upon, and child recruiters brought to justice, in accordance with international legal standards that have been developed. It calls on all parties to the conflict in the DRC to fully respect international human rights and humanitarian law, as well as to comply with the terms of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement of 1999, which calls on all parties, inter alia, to protect human rights and cease all acts of violence against civilians, including unlawful killings and summary executions, use and recruitment of child soldiers, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, arbitrary arrest, unlawful detentions, executions on the basis of ethnic


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