Democratic Republic of the Congo: reluctant recruits: children and adults forcibly recruited for military service in North Kivu

Democratic Republic of the Congo: reluctant recruits: children and adults forcibly recruited for military service in North Kivu

Forced miliary service amongst children and adults in eastern Congo

Documents an intensive campaign of forcible recruitment of adults and children begun by RCD-Goma and its Rwandan allies in the last quarter of 2000. The paper asserts that the major rebel group in eastern Congo continues to recruit children to wage war against the Congolese government. Report details recruitment efforts since late 2000 by the Congolese Rally for Democracy-Goma (RCD-Goma) and the Rwandan army troops who support it. RCD-Goma has repeatedly pledged to demobilise its child soldiers, but has not fulfilled these promises. In April 2001, authorities of the rebel movement promised to deliver several hundred children in training at military camps to representatives of the United Nations. But several days later, they reportedly allowed some 1800 new recruits between the ages of 12 and 17 to graduate from training at one of these camps.

Recommendations to the RCD-Goma:

  • issue and enforce clear orders to all RCD-Goma forces to stop the recruitment, abduction, training, and use of child soldiers. Demobilise, disarm, rehabilitate, and return to their homes all current child soldiers
  • stop all forcible recruitment into the forces of RCD-Goma and allow recruits who do not wish to be in the armed forces to leave
  • insist that the inter-departmental commission on the demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers established by RCD-Goma on May 15, 2000 begin to function effectively and allocate the necessary resources for it to do so
  • allow MONUC and UNICEF access to military and local defense training camps

Recommendations to the Government of Rwanda:

  • issue clear instructions to all Rwandan soldiers operating in the DRC to stop the recruitment, abduction, training and use of child soldiers in the armed forces of RCD-Goma or in the RPA and demobilise, disarm, rehabilitate, and return to their homes all current child soldiers. Those suspected of recruiting children should be arrested, investigated, and punished according to the law
  • issue clear instructions to all Rwandan soldiers operating in the DRC to stop all forcible recruitment of persons for RCD-Goma or RPA forces and allow recruits who do not wish to be in the armed forces to leave
  • sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict without reservations, and submit upon ratification, a binding declaration establishing a minimum age of at least eighteen for voluntary recruitment
  • ratify the 1991 Rwandan signature of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Recommendations to the international community

  • vigorously and publicly denounce the recruitment, abduction, training, and use of child soldiers and all forcible recruitment by all sides to the conflict in the DRC
  • urge all parties to the conflict to initiate and make operational disarmament, demobilisation, and rehabilitation programs for children, including the RCD-Goma inter-departmental commission on demobilisation and reintegration of child soldiers, in accordance with their instruction of May 15, 2000, and assist with required funding
  • provide political, financial, and technical support to civil society organisations focusing on human rights and particularly those monitoring the problem of child-soldiers
  • support the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Field Office in Congo and increase its monitoring and technical assistance programs. In particular, the U.N. Office should be given the necessary support to place field officers in RCD-held eastern Congo and throughout government territory
  • support and increase the human rights monitoring programs of MONUC

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