12 Feb 2022 11:38 am
According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, minors may not take part in combat operations and may not be recruited. Nevertheless, thousands of children and young people around the world are in action. Despite reprimands from the UN, young people are also recruited in Germany.
The recruitment and use of children by armed forces constitutes a violation of children’s rights and international humanitarian law. Nevertheless, children and young people around the world are in military action or are being prepared for it. The Bundeswehr has also been training and campaigning for minors for a long time.
On the occasion of the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, the Left Party warns the Federal Government of the “Red Hand Day“(“Aktion Rote Hand”) that she must work against the recruitment and use of child soldiers worldwide, while the Bundeswehr should stop recruiting minors immediately.
Zaklin Nastic, spokeswoman on human rights for the parliamentary group Die Linke and chairwoman of the Defense Committee, demanded with a view to “Red Hand Day”:
“The Bundeswehr must stop recruiting minors immediately and Germany must step up its worldwide efforts to combat the abuse of children and young people as soldiers and to support former child soldiers.”
12 February – International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers
Every year on February 12, attention is drawn to this topic since the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, prohibiting the deployment of children and young people as soldiers, came into force on this date in 2002.
“250,000 children and young people are deployed as soldiers around the world. They are kidnapped or bought from poor, desperate families, abused, drugged, sexually abused and severely punished in the event of disobedience,” says Nastic.
The children are used as spies, suicide bombers, for mine clearance and in combat operations and are exploited as cooks, guards or sexually. The resulting mental and physical damage to affected children and young people often lasts for life even after the deployment. Regardless of their involvement, the recruitment and use of children by armed forces is increasing severe injury of children’s rights and international humanitarian law, according to UNICEF.
Nastic also points out that the blunting against violence makes peace efforts more difficult in the long term. She emphasizes that the federal government must also immediately put an end to the recruitment of minors into the Bundeswehr. According to this, 1,239 girls and boys started their military service last year. Germany is one of the few countries that violates the “Straight 18/Only from 18” principle for the recruitment of soldiers. The vast majority of the 151 signatory states to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child have spoken out against an exception that would, under certain conditions, allow volunteers to be recruited from the age of 16.
Recruiting minors for the Bundeswehr has also been a state-sponsored practice in Germany for years, whereby war is marketed as an adventure, while no reference is made to the dangers and horrors. Critics warn that military instead of peaceful conflict solutions are being propagated in this way.
In 2012, youth officers held around 5,000 events at schools. According to the child protection organization Terre des Hommes, before Corona, youth officers and career advisors of the Bundeswehr reached more than 400,000 schoolchildren every year, including even children of just one eleven years. Children are also courted by the German military at trade fairs, when visiting barracks or at adventure events. Within ten years, spending had increased almost tenfold.
“Although the United Nations reprimanded Germany for recruiting minors in 2014, the Bundeswehr is continuing its EUR 40 million advertising campaign in schools. Video game-like presentations play down the soldier’s profession, and its ultimate consequence of having to kill or being killed is left out . But being a soldier is not a job like any other,” criticizes Nastic.
In 2016, the number of underage recruits in Germany reached one peakin 2017 kicked 2,128 minors offered their service. In the second Corona year, 2021, minors accounted for 7.4 percent of all recruitment, according to the defense ministry’s response to a written question from MP Ali Al-Dailami of the left.
That is stressed the BMVg earlier that underage soldiers do not serve with weapons and do not take part in security services or foreign missions. However, they receive the same military training with weapons as adult soldiers and are often sent on foreign missions soon after reaching majority.
Physical and mental damage in young people through Bundeswehr drill
The German Alliance for Child Soldiers, an alliance of eleven non-governmental organizations, and the alliance “Under 18 Never! No Minors in the Bundeswehr” have been pleading for years for children and young people in Germany to be better protected. According to child rights expert at Terre des Hommes and spokesperson for the Under 18 Never! Ralf Willinger shows data from the Ministry of Defense that 17-year-old girls and boys are exposed to high risks as Bundeswehr recruits and suffer physical and mental damage. Many young recruited soldiers leave the Bundeswehr prematurelysome commit desertion.
For example, minors have the right to vote. For their own protection, certain films, games and stimulants are withheld from them. But according to Martina Schmerr, a consultant in the Schools department of the Education and Science Union (GEW), they receive the same dangerous military training as older soldiers, are housed with adults without any protection and have no special contacts. pain denounced as spokeswoman for the alliance “Under 18 Never!” on:
“In a third of the cases of sexual violence that underage soldiers have had to endure in the past three years, superiors are suspected – this indicates abuse of power and a systemic problem in the Bundeswehr. And it makes it very clear: The Bundeswehr is not a place for children and young people.”