HL Deb 12 May 2003 vol 648 cc2-3WA
Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government

Whether they are helping the Government of Colombia and the parties to the conflict in that country to reach a humanitarian agreement forbidding the recruitment of children under 18 into armed units, and treating juvenile ex-combatants as victims rather than criminals; and if so, whether they are receiving support from UNICEF and the Corps Diplomatique in Bogota. [HL2570]

Baroness Amos

We are very concerned about this grave abuse committed by all the illegal armed groups in Colombia. We fully supported the Chairperson's Statement on Colombia at the recent Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, which condemned recruitment of children, called for their immediate demobilisation and urged Colombia to ratify the relevant protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed confllict.

Through the British Embassy in Colombia, we have recently funded a Save the Children Fund project to rehabilitate and guarantee the rights of ex-combatant children in Colombia. UNICEF works with the Colombian Government to prevent the recruitment of children, and to rehabilitate and reintegrate child soldiers.