15 countries allegedly use child soldiers

Feb. 12, 2009 at 10:33 AM

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Child soldiers fight for 15 countries or territories, including some that agreed to ban conscription of people under age 18, a U.S. rights group said Thursday.

This demands stronger U.N. action against governments and armed groups using child soldiers, including U.N. Security Council arms embargoes and other sanctions, Human Rights Watch said.

The advocacy group also wants military leaders who recruit or use child soldiers prosecuted, a U.N. General Assembly treaty prohibiting children from being involved in armed conflict universally ratified and enforced and the rehabilitation and reintegration of former child soldiers to receive increased support.

In a symbolic measure, the group arranged for former child soldiers from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia and youth activists from Germany and the United States, to present thousands of "red hands" to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Thursday.

The presentation is part of a global Red Hand Day campaign marking the seventh anniversary of the date the General Assembly treaty went into effect.

Children associated with the rights group also delivered red hands to German President Horst Koehler Thursday and to Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister Karel De Gucht a week earlier.

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