Global Amnesty Watch to Investigate US Claims on Use of ‘Child Soldiers’ in Counter-Terrorism War

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Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The Global Amnesty Watch (GAW) has revealed that it would launch investigation into allegations of the use of child soldiers in propagating the war against the Boko Horam insurgents in the North-east which is in breach of the Child Soldier Prohibition Act (CSPA) 2008.

The US in its 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report, had accused the Nigerian authorities of engaging persons below the age of 18 in military operations against terrorists in areas ravaged by Boko Haram.

The international rights group while reacting to the allegations in a statement signed by its Director, Africa Affairs, Mr. John Tom Lever, noted that there was need to take the report in context to ensure no one inadvertently handed advantage to defeated terrorists to regroup.
According to him, “For instance, we will like to establish if youths that were empowered with skills to be able to escape invading terrorists were stereotyped as ‘child soldiers’ or whether persons whose growths were stunted as a result of the harsh environment brought about by terrorists’ activities were labeled as under age.

“We will also want to establish if young people in the quest for adventure and excitement lied to join the local Civilian JTF, which came about as a result of the determination of the people living in the affected area to defend themselves against the carnage being unleashed by Boko Haram terrorists.

“The extent to which, if any, incidents of underage persons involvement in the conflict was made known to military authorities would also be reviewed since information at our disposal is to the effect that the government troops do not enlist persons below the internationally accepted age bracket,” he added.

The rights group explained that part of the shift the world urgently requires was not to adopt simplistic view of crisis situations because of fixation on international perspectives since such tend to come off with an air of imperial dominance while jeopardising the interest of the vulnerable population that should be protected.

Lever promised that the findings of the investigation would be made public at the right time. The group however cautioned interested parties to the Boko Haram insurgency to be cautious in their reports since there is the danger of the wording of some documents being construed as indicting the government and supporting the terrorists that made life a living hell for citizens.