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'Grave Violations' Of Children's Rights In Burma


Secretary-General reports 'grave violations' of children's rights in Myanmar

Grave child rights violations, including recruitment into armed groups, continue in Myanmar, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in a new report, calling on the Government to take measures to address the problem which is common to both State and non-State actors.

"Although there has been progress in terms of dialogue with the Government of Myanmar and two non-State actors, the report notes that State and non-State actors continue to be implicated in grave child rights violations," Mr. Ban writes in a summary of his report to the Security Council.

He notes progress in a number of areas, including the commitment by the Government that no child under the age of 18 will be recruited and the signing by two non-State actors - the Karen National Union and the Karenni National Progressive Party - of Deeds of Commitment to cease the recruitment and use of children.

The report documents "patterns of underage recruitment" by the Government, including those involving "poor and unaccompanied street children who are vulnerable to promises of food and shelter." Other children picked up by the police for not having a national identification card are offered the "choice" of either being arrested or going into the army.

"Also of grave concern are the reliable reports of a number of incarcerated children/minors who have been convicted of desertion and sentenced to prison terms of up to five years," Mr. Ban writes, noting that international practice and principles stipulate that children who have been unlawfully recruited or used by armed forces should not be treated as deserters.

Other actors cited in the report in connection with the recruitment of children include the United Wa State Army; the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation National Progressive Party/Karenni Army; Kachin Independence Organization/Kachin Independence Army; Karenni National People's Liberation Front; Democratic Karen Buddhist Army; Shan State Army-South and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army; and the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council.

The UN has received "credible but unverified reports of rape perpetrated by Government forces and armed groups, which the country task force on monitoring and reporting is not in a position to confirm owing to limited access to conflict-affected areas."

The Secretary-General recommends that the Government of Myanmar to take into account its responsibilities to ensure that all armed groups with which it shares a ceasefire accord are made accessible to monitoring.

He urges the Government to continue taking disciplinary action against those responsible for aiding and abetting the recruitment of children, and to systematize and institutionalize this disciplinary process.

The Government of Myanmar is encouraged to accede to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and to adjust national legislation accordingly.

Mr. Ban also recommends that the Myanmar Government allow international and humanitarian organizations access for delivery of humanitarian services, and to accept the proposal of the UN refugee agency's Assistant High Commissioner for Operations for an inter-agency humanitarian needs assessment in the country.

ENDS

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