The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (A/67/845–S/2013/245) issued on 15 May 2013.
In 2012, hostilities continued between the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia — Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP), the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) and the Colombian national army. On 18 October 2012, however, peace talks were initiated between the Government and FARC-EP in Oslo.
Widespread and systematic recruitment and use of children by non-State armed groups was documented in 2012. Although the full scale and scope remain unknown, around 300 cases of recruitment and use were reported by the country task force in 23 of the 32 departments and in Bogotá. In 2012, the Colombian Family Welfare Institute documented 188 children separated from FARC-EP, 37 from ELN, 34 from armed groups that emerged after the demobilization of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia and 4 from the Ejército Popular de Liberación.
FARC-EP and ELN continued to recruit and use children. In February 2012, a 10-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy, both wearing FARC-EP uniforms, were found in Meta during a raid by the Colombian army. The country task force also verified cases of recruitment and use by non-State armed groups that emerged after the demobilization of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia. In March 2012, for example, a 16-year-old boy was offered money to join the Ejército Revolucionario Popular Anticomunista de Colombia (ERPAC) in Meta. In March and April 2012, threats of recruitment of children by FARC-EP, ERPAC, Las Aguilas Negras, Los Rastrojos and Los Urabeños were reported in the departments of Antioquia, Cordoba, Guaviare and Meta. In Guaviare, the threats forced seven boys between 14 and 18 years of age into displacement.
Children were also killed and maimed during attacks carried out by non-State armed groups or in crossfire between non-State armed groups or between non-State armed groups and the Colombian security forces. In March 2012, for example, four boys and four girls between 14 and 16 years of age were killed in the crossfire when a FARC-EP camp in Meta was attacked by the Colombian army. In October 2012, a 13-year-old girl was killed and another girl injured by the army during an attack against alleged members of FARC-EP in Cauca. In 2012, at least 52 children (32 boys and 20 girls) were injured and 13 children (12 boys and 1 girl) killed by anti-personnel mines or explosive remnants of war.
While underreported, girls continued to be victims of sexual violence attributed to members of non-State armed groups. Girls associated with such groups were often forced into sexual relations with adults and, allegedly, to have an abortion if they became pregnant. In March 2012, a 16-year-old girl in Nariño was raped several times by hooded members of an unidentified non-State armed group. In July 2012, an 11-year-old girl was raped by a FARC-EP member in Valle del Cauca. A large proportion of sexual violence is being perpetrated by so-called criminal gangs (“Bacrim”). Since the Government does not acknowledge these non-State armed groups that emerged after the demobilization process as actors in the armed conflict, victims of sexual violence by them have faced major obstacles in gaining access to benefits under the Victims’ Act (Act No. 1448 of 2011). Reports have also been received of cases of sexual violence against children by members of the Colombian security forces. In October 2012 in Nariño, members of the army reportedly sexually abused at least 11 girls, most of them of Afro-Colombian ethnicity, including an 8-year-old girl.
Teachers and pupils continued to be targeted and threatened by non-State armed groups for preventing the recruitment of children. In September 2012, for example, three teachers and a head teacher in Arauca were forced into displacement following threats from an unidentified armed group. The military use of schools by the army was reported in several departments. In July 2012, the army used a school for military purposes in fighting against FARC-EP in Cauca. The infrastructure of the school was damaged and unexploded ordnance found in the vicinity.
Although Colombia, as a signatory State to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, made significant efforts to eliminate landmines, contamination by landmines, unexploded ordnance and improvised explosive devices continued to cause mobility restrictions and complicate aid delivery in several departments, including Cauca, Nariño, Norte de Santander and Putumayo. In the last-mentioned department, for example, landmines laid by FARC-EP have intermittently confined hundreds of civilians and prevented timely assistance from reaching an estimated 1,000 flood-affected families. Restrictions imposed by ERPAC, Las Aguilas Negras, Los Rastrojos and Los Urabeños were also reported in urban areas of Antioquia, Cordoba and Valle del Cauca departments. In 2012, more than 46,000 persons, of whom some 30 per cent were children, were internally displaced in 18 departments, affecting rural, indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities in particular.
Indigenous and Afro-Colombian children continued to be disproportionately affected by all grave violations. Among the demobilized children assisted by the Colombian Family Welfare Institute, some 8 per cent were indigenous, even though indigenous children constitute just 1.55 per cent of the Colombian population.
The Government voluntarily accepted the monitoring and reporting mechanism pursuant to Security Council resolution 1612 (2005) on the condition that any dialogue between the United Nations and armed groups would take place with its consent. There was no contact or dialogue between the United Nations system and non-State armed groups during the reporting period. A general agreement for the termination of the conflict and the construction of a stable and lasting peace was signed by the Government and FARC-EP in Havana on 26 August 2012, with representatives of Cuba and Norway as guarantors. The issue of children and armed conflict was absent from the agenda.
The Colombian Family Welfare Institute provided protection to 264 children (67 girls and 197 boys) who had been separated from non-State armed groups. Children separated from armed groups formed after the demobilization of paramilitary organizations were not systematically referred to the Institute, efforts by the Government of Colombia notwithstanding. Some children were referred to the Attorney General for prosecution. All children, as victims, should be accorded the same benefits and protection, regardless of the group that recruited or used them. The lack of information on cases taken up by the Office of the Attorney General and the limited number of prosecutions involving violations against children remained a challenge. While at least 5,075 children were separated from non-State armed groups by the Colombian Family Welfare Institute, to date there have been only 25 convictions for child recruitment, 3 under the Justice and Peace Act (Act No. 975 of 2005) and 22 through the Human Rights Unit of the Office of the Attorney General. Efforts by the Government of Colombia notwithstanding, children continued to face difficulties in gaining access to justice, while impunity for violations against children remained a concern.
The early warning system operated by the Office of the Ombudsman prepared a report on recruitment and use of children in Guania, Guaviare, Meta and Vichada to identify the impact of the armed conflict on children and to promote prevention and protection measures. In addition, in November 2012, the Ministry of Defence issued a law enforcement agencies protocol for the management of sexual violence with emphasis on sexual violence in instances of armed conflict, in addition to an operating charter for its implementation.
Parties in Colombia
- Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) (a)
- Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia — Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) (a)