There were no indications of a policy of, or systematic recruitment below the age of 18 into the Royal Nepal Army (RNA). However, the government reportedly targeted children suspected of affiliation with the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN-Maoist).182 Many children, some as young as 13, were taken into custody by security forces in connection with the insurgency and some remained unaccounted for.183 Some children were reportedly used as by government forces as informers. Children were also victims of the armed conflict through exposure to war remnants and explosives, or by being caught in crossfire.184
Non-state armed groups
The CPN disengaged from peace talks with the government on 27 August and the conflict resumed. There were reports of CPN recruitment and use of children aged between 15 and 18, although the CPN leadership denied this.185 Many children were reportedly abducted by the CPN, including 518 children in January 2003. Most were released after a few days after having taken part in political indoctrination courses.186 Eighty children aged around 15 were reportedly abducted from Jan Jyoti school, Salyan district in Western Nepal in January. They said they had received training in “guerrilla warfare” before being released.187 Child recruits were reportedly used in some cases as fighters and human shields, as well as messengers and porters.188 Some underage girls reported sexual abuse while with the group.189
The CPN sponsored the All Nepal National Independent Students’ Union (Revolutionary) (ANNISU-R), a student political organization, which clashed with armed forces on various occasions.190 In the ANNISU-R was accused of forcible recruitment at schools using threats to intimidate students, head teachers, and other relevant actors into boosting their ranks.191 In June a member of the ANNISU-R claimed that the organization numbered as many as 400,000.192
Demobilization and child protection programs
No official child DDR program existed, although some small projects had been established for former combatants.193 One regional NGO noted that “children’s advocates express concern that these efforts [at reintegrating children affected by the insurgency] by both the government and other organizations may be catering to less than half of the children actually affected by the conflict.”194 While some child soldiers reportedly returned home after the ceasefire declared on 29 January 2003, they were not officially demobilized. At the time, these children expressed concern they could be re-recruited if the conflict resumed and such fears re-emerged after the breakdown of negotiations in August.195
182 The State of the Rights of the Child in Nepal 2003, National Report by Child Workers in Nepal Concerned Center, 2003.
183 “Security agencies fail to reveal whereabouts of arrested children,” The Kathmandu Post, 15 April 2003.
184 Information received by credible CSC sources, September 2003.
185 “Maoist leader denies recruiting child soldiers,” Himalayan News Service, 11 May 2003; “Maoists deny charges of using child soldiers,” The Kathmandu Post, 20 April 2003.
186 Mills, Elizabeth, “Nepal – Maoists Kidnap More Students as Political Battles Continue in Nepal,” World Market Research Center Daily Analysis, 14 January 2003; “Rights-Nepal: As Violence Rises, Children Roped into Maoist War,” Inter Press Service, 17 January 2003; Child workers in Nepal Concerned Centre (CWIN) update, June 2003, www.cwin.nepal.org
187 “Nepal insurgents abduct 80 students for indoctrination”, Kathmandu Post via Nepalnews.com website in English, 14 January 2003..
188 “UN envoy to Nepal comments on Maoist recruitment of children,” BBC Monitoring South Asia, 16 January 2003; “Nepal concerned over recruitment of child soldiers by Maoists,” The Press Trust of India Limited, 16 January 2003.
189 The State of the Rights of the Child in Nepal 2003, National Report by Child Workers in Nepal Concerned Center, 2003.
190 “ANNISU-R demands dismissal of all charges against its cadres,” The Kathmandu Post, 20 March 2003; “Student strike badly affects life in Kathmandu, 54 students arrested [Corrected 04/28/03],” Agence France-Presse, 28 April 2003. “Nepalese army rejects allegations of human rights violations,” BBC Monitoring South Asia, 27 December 2002.
191 “Nepal Maoists accused of forcing students to join ranks,” BBC Monitoring South Asia, 20 June 2003.
192 Nepal Maoists accused of forcing students to join ranks,” BBC Monitoring South Asia, 20 June 2003.
193 The State of the Rights of the Child in Nepal 2003, National Report by Child Workers in Nepal Concerned Center, 2003.
194 Citing The Kathmandu Post: “Nepal: Government Efforts for Child Victims of Insurgency may be Insufficient,” Asia Child Rights Weekly Newsletter, 2 April 2003.
195 “Child soldiers wish for peace, do not want to return to jungle,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 2 May 2003.