Myanmar is moving towards eliminating the use of child soldiers in its armed forces, says a report by elevenmyanmar.com.
Ministry of Defence Lieutenant-General Myint Soe told the media, “We are trying to be at the stage where there are no more child soldiers in the military,” at the conclusion of three-day high level peace talks with the Kachin Independence Organisation from Oct 8 -10 in Myitkyina, Kachin State.
“There are some problems in some areas. Some of them who entered [the military] stated that they were over 18. When their parents came to us, we learnt that they were not over 18 but only over 16. There were difficulties in making national identity cards,” he said.
He also said the ethnic armed groups do not follow the international norms against using child soldiers either.
“Proper actions must be taken against the military if it fails to follow the rules so it should be the same for other armed groups. Only then, we will have internal peace”.
A seven-point agreement was signed with the Kachin Independence Organization on Thursday. Both sides have agreed to follow eighteen points which includes prevention against killing, mutilating, recruiting, rape, and other sexual abuses of children, according to reports.
Major General Gwan Maw, vice chief of staff of the Kachin Independence Organization, said “In our KIA [Kachin Independence Army], we have our own regulations for recruiting new soldiers. There are others who follow the rules while some don’t follow them. We especially try not to recruit child soldiers, but we don’t recruit the soldiers in systematically. In the joint committee, both sides need to avoid doing this”.
In June of last year the government of Myanmar signed an action plan with the United Nations to end the recruitment and use of children by 2014.