Colombia, grave violations against children

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12 January 2022

Despite the historic peace accord, grave violations against children still persist

Notwithstanding the 2016 Peace Agreement between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels, and the following decrease in violence, children in Colombia continue to suffer due to the impact of the hostilities. 

The recruitment and abuse of children, perpetrated by both the dissident FARC-People's Army(EP) fighters and the militant group Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN), forced many families to flee their homes. Furthermore, according to the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) Virginia Gamba, Colombia is one of the countries most affected by explosive remnants of war. Other verified violations included rape and sexual violence, especially among girls. During the reported period – between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2021 – 383 grave violations were committed against 330 children. Although a visible decrease in violence, compared with the previous report in which 850 violations occurred, a tough situation persists. Recruitment and use affected 220 children, followed by the killing and maiming (118), rape and other forms of sexual violence (14), and abduction (10). Moreover, eight attacks on schools and hospitals and 13 incidents of denial of humanitarian access took place. 

Ms. Gamba recently called on all armed groups to immediately stop recruiting, abusing and using children, as well as to take all necessary measures to protect them during military operations, avoiding the employment of indiscriminate weapons. She added that the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution - the pillars of international humanitarian law – should be respected. During the reporting period, several reintegration measures were undertaken: 323 children released from armed groups enrolled in specialized reintegration programmes. The Special Representative welcomed new policy measures adopted by the Government to strengthen child protection and prevent violations, declaring that the UN is available to provide support to the national authorities.


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Author: Antonella Candiago; Editor: Xavier Atkins

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