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14 Governments Face Possible Military Sanctions

Last week the United States State Department named more countries than ever before – 14 – in its latest annual list of governments responsible for the recruitment and use of children as soldiers. Cameroon, Libya, and Nigeria were added this year,…
Rebel child soldiers gather in Gumuruk, South Sudan.
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Treaty’s 20th Anniversary Shows Uneven Progress, Need for Improvement

When I joined Human Rights Watch more than two decades ago, I quickly became involved with a global campaign to stop the use of child soldiers. Today marks 20 years since 1 of the campaign’s key accomplishments – the adoption of the United Nations…
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UN Report Finds Unfair Trials, Torture, Overreliance on Confessions

Over the past two years, Iraqi courts have processed more than 20,000 terrorism cases against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) suspects, including hundreds of children. But a new United Nations report finds that far from…
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New Report Suggests Ways to Strengthen International Law

Is there more international law can do to protect children caught up in war? That is the question raised by a major report released today as part of an inquiry on protecting children during conflicts. The Inquiry on…
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Hundreds of Cases of ‘Disappearances’ and Torture Reported Under al-Sisi’s Government

Instead of protecting its citizens from torture and forced disappearances, the Egyptian government prefers to criticize and attack groups calling for investigations. Human Rights Watch published evidence several weeks ago…
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Forces in Northeast Issue Order to Prohibit Recruitment, Verify Ages

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of forces controlling parts of Syria’s northeast, has taken an important step towards ending the use of child soldiers in their ranks. The SDF issued a military order banning the…
Ain Issa displaced persons camp, one of three camps in northeast Syria where Human Rights Watch found the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) have been recruiting children for military participation, June 2017.
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State Department Restores Burma and Iraq to its Annual List of Violators

I held my breath yesterday, waiting for the US State Department to issue its latest annual list of governments implicated in the use of child soldiers. Last year’s list was a disaster: then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson overruled his…
Child soldiers put down their guns in a disarmament and release ceremony in Jonglei state, South Sudan, February 10, 2015.
News

After recruitment by Al-Shabab, children face difficult conditions in detention

How is it that children get involved with Al-Shabab in the first place?   Al-Shabab uses many means to recruit children, including enticements, deceit and force. Poor rural communities, with little protection, are particularly vulnerable to…
Photo of Somali children blindfolded.
News

Governments Renounce Child Marriage, Child Soldier Use, Attacks on Schools

For many children around the world, 2017 could hardly have been worse. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya children fled mass atrocities by government security forces in Burma, while millions are bearing the brunt of war and unprecedented…
Students and teachers from around the world call for schools and universities to be protected from military use.
News

No Excuse for Sending a 13-Year-Old to War

“How old are you?” the interviewer asks. “Thirteen,” replies the boy, in uniform. “Thirteen years – thirteen years old!” the interviewer repeats, proudly, as the camera pans upward to the grinning, bearded faces of…
A fighter stands amidst the ruins of buildings near the Clock Square in Raqqa, Syria October 18, 2017. Picture taken October 18, 2017.
News

Holds Hearings on State’s Role in CIA Secret Renditions Program

There’s been no justice for victims of the US Central Intelligence Agency’s rendition, torture, and secret detention program created after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. But a unique citizen-led initiative in North…
The lobby of the CIA Headquarters Building in Langley, Virginia, U.S. on August 14, 2008.
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Rare ‘Dissent Memo’ Says Secretary of State Contravened US Law

When US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson excluded Iraq, Burma, and Afghanistan from the State Department’s list of countries using child soldiers earlier this year, my colleagues and I at Human Rights Watch were angry. It turns out we…
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson holds a press briefing at the State Department in Washington, U.S., August 22, 2017.
News

Many Child Soldiers Released, but more than 7,500 Newly Recruited Globally

Let’s start with the good news. A new United Nations report on children and armed conflict found that more than 5,700 child soldiers were released from armed groups in the Central African Republic and the Philippines last year, and for…
Child soldiers put down their guns in a disarmament and release ceremony in Jonglei state, South Sudan, February 10, 2015.
News

Maladministration in Nigerian’s July 2016 Execution

The official Ombudsman of Indonesia has accused both the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and the Supreme Court of “maladministration” in denying a Nigerian citizen, executed for drug trafficking in July 2016, his legal rights. …
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Tillerson Takes Burma, Iraq Off List Despite Evidence

Dozens of children were part of Burma’s armed forces as recently as last week. In Iraq, children have died fighting the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) with Iraqi government military units. But United States Secretary of State Rex…
United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks during a press conference at the State Department in Washington, U.S. June 21, 2017.
News

US Again Allows Military Aid to Countries Using Children as Fighters

US President Barack Obama announced yesterday that he will allow several governments that recruit and use child soldiers to continue receiving US military assistance – aid that is supposedly subject to child soldier-related restrictions. The decision wasn…
Child soldiers put down their guns in a disarmament and release ceremony in Jonglei state, South Sudan, February 10, 2015.
News
The United States government just opened the door a crack to justice for the torture of scores of men in CIA custody under its infamous detention and interrogation program. For the first time, the Justice Department didn’t effectively block a lawsuit by…
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On March 24, United States President Barack Obama finishes a two-day visit to Argentina. The visit  coincides with the 40th anniversary of the Argentine military coup, which ushered in an era of brutal attacks on people perceived as dissidents, including…