New York – The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Leila Zerrougui, welcomes the significant progress made in the past six months by the Government of Chad to prevent the recruitment of children by its national army.
In 2011, Chad signed an action plan with the United Nations to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by its national security forces. In May 2013, in view of Chad’s military and police contribution to the UN Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the Special Representative traveled to Chad’s capital N’djamena with UNICEF to meet with President Idriss Deby Itno, members of his government, as well as civil society, to assess progress and identify remaining challenges in the implementation of the action plan.
“As Chad is assuming a larger role in peacekeeping in the region, we have an obligation to support the authorities in their efforts to improve the protection of children from recruitment and use by Government forces,” said the Special Representative.
Despite progress, during her visit, the Special Representative observed several remaining obstacles towards full and effective compliance with the Action Plan, such as the lack of a free and universal birth registration system, an incomplete legal framework for child protection and the absence of disciplinary and judicial mechanisms to investigate and prosecute violations against children.
At the end of Ms. Zerrougui’s visit, the Government agreed to a Road Map including ten priority measures to expedite compliance with the Action Plan.
“In the past six months, most of the remaining issues to protect children from recruitment have been addressed. This is a significant development and I commend the collaboration and work of both Chadian authorities and UNICEF,” said the Special Representative.
Ms. Zerrougui remained engaged in dialogue with Chadian authorities and in October 2013, President Deby, issued a directive on the protection of children by Government forces, including disciplinary sanctions for child recruitment and use.
“I now look forward to the swift adoption of a national law criminalizing the recruitment and use of children, either through the approval of the Child Protection code by the Parliament or through an amendment of the penal code,” declared Ms. Zerrougui. “This will provide Chadian children additional protection from recruitment and will firmly establish the principles of accountability for authors of this grave violation in the country’s legislation.”
The Special Representative encourages Chadian authorities to maintain the same level of commitment to achieve full implementation of the action plan. She invites other countries listed for recruitment and use of children in their national security forces – Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen- to work towards their shared goal of stopping recruitment and use of child soldiers by government forces.
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