Monday, March 12, 2012

South Sudan's Army Signs Agreement to Release Child Soldiers

The Sudanese People’s Liberation Army of South Sudan (SPLA) today signed an agreement with the United Nations renewing its commitment to release all children within its ranks.  It had previously agreed orally to release the child soldiers in 2009, but is now putting its commitment in writing. The agreement also requires that all militias that are being incorporated into the SPLA are child-free.  It creates a transparent system for disciplinary action against those in command who recruit children within the SPLA and creates improved communication among commanders to make sure that the practice of child recruitment is halted and responsibility for child protection is understood on all levels.

At the signing ceremony in Juba, South Sudan, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, commented:  

“This is an important day for South Sudan – the world’s newest country. Not only does this action plan ensure the Government’s commitment that the SPLA will have no children within its ranks, but all armed groups who have accepted amnesty with the Government must also release their children."  However, "For this agreement to make a real difference for children, implementation is a must.” 

The agreement was also signed by the Ministry of Defense, the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), UNICEF and Ms. Coomaraswamy.

(cgb) (Adapted from a UN Press Release)

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