MOGADISHU, (CAJ News) – OVER 3 500 children have been killed, scores recruited as soldiers and used as spies by government forces and terror groups during the raging civil war in Somalia.
In some regions, where children are considered adults at 15, boys have been sentenced to death for alleged association with Al-Shabaab terror movement.
This contradicts the federal constitution.
The United Nations has verified over 6 000 cases of recruitment of children, some as young as nine, with 70% committed by Al-Shabaab.
Large numbers of children were abducted by the group for recruitment into their ranks, trained and used in combat.
Their detention by security forces on national security charges is another concern.
The UN verified the detention of at least 931 children over the past two years.
Detention was also used as a tactic to run intelligence and counter-terrorism operation with children used as spies.
“The scale of children’s detention on national security charges and their use for intelligence purposes while detained, is extremely troubling and creates additional dangers for the boys and girls,” said Leila Zerrougui, UN envoy for children and armed conflict.
He called on all parties to conflict to uphold their obligations under international law and urged the UN Mission in Somalia and the African Union to investigate all reports of grave violations against children by their troops and to ensure accountability for perpetrators.
The violations have been blamed to the breakdown in law and order and the absence of state authority in large parts of the unstable East African country.