Child Soldiers in Nepal
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Child soldiers
Child soldiers in Nepal
Children in Armed Conflicts
Situation in Nepal
National Recruitment Legislation and Practice
Military Training and Military Schools
Government Treatment of Suspected Child Soldiers
Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)/United People's Front
Situation in Nepal
Country Report

The situation in Nepal should be brought to the attention of the Security Council. Thousands of children are believed to be fighting in armed forces and groups, and thousands more are caught up in the conflict. The Communist Party of Nepal (CPN-Maoist) is believed to receive international support, including from the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement.

In February 1996, the CPN-Maoist and its political wing, the Samyukta Jana Morcha, United People's Front, launched an armed insurgency, declaring a "People's War" in mid-western Nepal to overthrow the government and establish a republican communist state. An estimated 9,000 to 10,000 people have since died in the fighting, which has spread to all of Nepal's 75 districts and involved grave human rights abuses on both sides. The government has dealt with the insurgency as a law and order problem, using police rather than the army in counter-insurgency operations.

Throughout 1999 and early 2000 there were moves to grant the police special powers and establish paramilitary forces, though these stopped short of deploying the army. By the end of 2001 the Maoist armed groups were believed to have been involved in violent incidents in nearly all of Nepal's 75 districts, increasing the security risk to civilians. Among the offences reported are forced disappearances, abductions, raids, destruction and looting of property, extortion and other acts of intimidation. The risk of violence and the collapse of services in the worst affected areas are said to have forced some families to flee to safer areas. Thousands of persons have been internally displaced.

The long-running conflict between the CPN-Maoist and the government forces became a human rights crisis in 2002, with hundreds of civilians killed and scores of police officials summarily executed. A State of Emergency was declared on 26 November 2001, following Maoist attacks on police and army barracks in Dang and Syangja districts, was extended on 25 February 2002 and again in May 2002. Political uncertainty added to the Government's rejection in July 2002 of an offer for peace talks, on the grounds that armed groups would have to disarm first, could prove a further threat to the security of the region. International food aid has been scaled back or completely suspended in some areas due to security concerns. Experts fear that Nepal may be moving towards one of the most serious food crises in South Asia.


National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

Provision for conscription does not exist even in the event of war or national emergency. There are no known plans for its introduction, as volunteers fulfil recruit quotas.

According to information provided by Nepal to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the 1962 Royal Army New Recruitment Rules requires recruits to be at least 18 years old. Officially, enlistment is open to all Nepalese, regardless of caste, religion or ethnic background. But in practice recruits tend to be drawn from the ethnic and caste groups that have traditionally supplied the bulk of the Nepalese and Gurkha regiments and from the ethnic groups of the mountainous areas and the Kathmandu valley.

In December 1999, there were reportedly 3,491 Gurkhas in the British Army: 65 in Nepal, 945 in Brunei, and the remainder either on operations or in the UK. Nepalese Gurkhas are also recruited in India. Recruitment to the British and Indian armies is apparently regulated by a tripartite agreement that sets recruitment and salary levels.

The government denies the involvement of under-18s in the armed forces, but interviews with ex-Ghurkas suggest some may enlist before the age of 18, either by falsifying their age or through irregularities in birth registration. Other observers have also noted that minimum age legislation is not always upheld either due to irregularities in birth registration or corruption, and have estimated that some 10-15 percent of recruits may actually be under 18.


spacerMilitary Training and Military Schools

The 1971Young Boys' Recruitment and Conditions of Service Rules state that boys must be between 15 and 18 years old to be recruited. However, the Government explained that this means "Young Nepalese men could enlist from the age of 15 years in order to follow military training, but nobody under 18 years of age could be recruited into the army."

Training for the armed forces is said to take six months to one year depending on the type of duty. According to UNICEF, there is a Military Academy that admits young men of 18 years or above to train for national service.

The military also provides formal education to children in special military schools based on the national school curriculum. Formal education usually begins at grade four and continues to grade 12 (upper secondary). UNICEF mentions that there is a strict quota on admission to those schools and places are usually reserved for children of military personnel. Students are not automatically enrolled in the army.


spacerGovernment Treatment of Suspected Child Soldiers

There have been reports of armed 'encounters' in which police killed children as young as ten. Many of these encounters have taken place in disputed circumstances, which could amount to extra-judicial executions. There have also been reports of the Nepalese Police detaining children for alleged involvement in Maoist activities.

On 26 May 2000, one girl aged 17 from Kailali District was killed with five other Maoist suspects in Urma village, allegedly after being wounded and captured. The six had been pursued by police following a looting incident and refused to surrender.


spacerCommunist Party of Nepal (Maoist)/United People's Front

The Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) in February 1998 declared that the development of the people's army forces was taking place in three ways: by arming the general masses; preparing a broad and extensive network of the people's militia; and principally, by building a regular people's army.

The CPN (Maoist) are known to recruit and use children under the age of 18 as soldiers. However the Maoist insurgents have made conflicting statements about their recruitment policy. They once declared openly that: "the increasing participation of women in the People's War has had another bonanza for the revolutionary cause. That is the drawing of children into the process of war and their politicisation.

A large number of children in the rural areas are now contributing substantially in the guerrilla war by way of collection and exchange information, etc. Indeed, these little 'red devils' hold immense potentials for the future of the revolutionary People's War." They also stated that "large scale rebellion of young girls, mostly high school and college girls, from their patrimonial households to join the People's War have been a common occurrence..."

But in August 2000 Maoist leader Prachanda denied using children as soldiers, saying: "We want to make it clear that no child soldier has been recruited in any unit of the People's Army" and that the CPN (M) was even reportedly turning down children who were volunteering."

The number of children involved in the Maoist movement is unknown. Local and international media have released numerous reports of underage soldiers among the Maoists. For example, in 1998 the Himalaya Times claimed the Maoists were recruiting children between 14 and 18 years of age who are then sent out in groups of six or seven on combat operations.

On 19 March 1999, six out of seven Maoists that had been killed in an encounter with the police at Ankot village of Kavre district were found to be students and young people, four of them girls. They included a 17-year- old and a 14-year-old. Two other young people, aged 15 and 16, were also killed in the operation.

Some Maoist recruitment has been forced. In August 2000, Amnesty International warned of a rising tide of recruitment of children by the CPN (Maoist), including through abduction.

CPN (Maoist) reportedly abducted at least thirty children in June and July 2000. Four cases involved students from Janapriya Secondary School who were abducted from a hostel in Dasara, Jajarkot district on 8 June 2000. Three of them, who were under 15 at the time, had not returned to their families by mid-2001. A fourth 14-year-old returned home after nine days. Also in June the Kathmandu Post reported that 13 of 91 people who joined the Maoists in Lahan VDC in Jajarkot district were under 15 years old. There were continuing reports of school closures and parents keeping children at home to prevent their involvement in Maoist activities. There were reports that children who refused to join were beaten.

Some estimates in 2000 suggested that 30% of Maoist fighters were children. In July 2001, a member of the NationalHuman Rights Commission claimed that at least 25 percent of the Maoist fighters were children under the age of 18.

According to Amnesty International the situation has deteriorated since the start of 2002, when the Maoists walked out of peace talks, breaking a truce and launching attacks on government security forces, prompting a full-scale renewal in the conflict. Reportedly, the Maoists had since begun recruiting child soldiers in greater numbers than in the previous period.

Most children taking part in the armed conflict are believed to be between 14 and 18 years of age, but the use of even younger children cannot be ruled out. Children are also used as porters, messengers, sentries and spies and are involved in cultural or propaganda activities. The Maoists are said to have formed "a youth wing to reach out to school children."


External links
Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers CHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT

Coalition aganst Child Soldiers
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