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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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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.
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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

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

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

Future Whistleblowers Are Watching

Update: On Friday, Human Rights Watch sent a letter to President Obama urging that he commute the sentence of Chelsea Manning. On January 17, President Obama ordered Manning be freed, having served nearly 7 years of her sentence, on May 17, 2017, rather…
A supporter of Edward Snowden holds a combination photo featuring U.S. President Barack Obama and Edward Snowden, during a news conference in Hong Kong on June 14, 2013.
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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

Real Oversight and Reform on Surveillance Needed in the US

What a coincidence – just as we launch a Campaign to Pardon Edward Snowden, and as the new Oliver Stone movie opens, the House Intelligence Committee issues a report arguing against clemency for Snowden, alleging overwhelming damage he supposedly caused…
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Sign Petition to Bring Whistleblower Home

Today, Human Rights Watch joins the American Civil Liberties Union, and Amnesty International in launching a public campaign urging President Obama to pardon whistleblower Edward Snowden. It’s been more than three years since…
A supporter of Edward Snowden holds a combination photo featuring U.S. President Barack Obama and Edward Snowden, during a news conference in Hong Kong on June 14, 2013.
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“[Fighting] is the only thing we can do, there is nowhere to go to school,” a child soldier in South Sudan told Human Rights Watch. The country’s armed conflict has kept half of all South Sudanese children out of school and shut down 70 percent of schools…
Congolese rebel fighter abandoned classroom
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This week, President Barack Obama announced that four countries that use child soldiers — the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan – will continue to receive United States military assistance. The…
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At Human Rights Watch, one thing we’ve learned is that justice can sometimes take a long time. Nearly five years ago, I was contacted by a Dutch prosecutor. He was bringing a case against five people who had been raising…
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Yesterday the United States State Department released a new snapshot of how governments around the world are doing in ending their use of child soldiers. Its 2015 list names eight governments – Burma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Somalia,…
Child soldiers with Houthi fighters hold weapons during a demonstration in Sanaa on March 13, 2015.
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Last December, the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, called 2014 one of the worst years on record for children. A new UN report issued today on children and armed conflict – how many were killed, abducted, or subject to other grave violations –…