The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan

A Survey of Programs on the Reintegration of Former Child Soldiers

2. Country Profiles
2.5. Colombia

2.5.1. Current State of Armed Conflict

Children have been widely used by all parties in the conflict in Colombia. According to the People's Advocate, 20 percent of all Colombian children directly or indirectly participate in the armed conflict.22 Children are used for many different tasks, from collecting intelligence to kidnapping and guarding hostages, and are fully armed for carrying out these actions. In September 1997, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas attacked hydroelectric facility and their ranks and file consisted of a large number of children. Eye witnesses at the power plant, said that they saw some children who were as young as 8 years old. In a further proof of child soldiers being used, the National Liberation Army (ELN) attempted to use 9 years old child to deliver a bomb to a polling station in Cucuta, on October 26, 1997 election day.23 It is estimated that there are 4,000 children currently serving either in the Colombian army or in guerrilla rank.

Lack of accurate data on Colombia made it impossible to compile any report on it at this moment until new information is established with regard to programs and projects dedicated to former child soldiers.

2.5.2. Domestic Framework for Protection of Children

Colombian Government has yet ratified the 1989 Convention on the Rights of Child. This addition political instability, create a difficulty in providing protection for children. Information has been requested for some accuracy in number of child soldiers in Colombia. But we not yet receive any information to date.

2.5.3. The Dimensions of the Problem of Child Soldiers

From the little information gathered, it appears that dimension of the problem of child soldiers seems incredibly serious. Accessing information in this regard is difficult and therefore a future visit to Colombia might be advisable.

2.5.4. Measures taken to address problem

a) Government, b) UN agencies, c) External Donors and d) NGOs

Connected to the issue of implementation of programs for former child soldiers, are the government and other actor's involvement. Although this information exist, it was difficult accessed.

2.5.5. Impact of measures

a) Government, b) UN agencies, c) External Donors and d) NGOs

Link in part to this section is the success of section 2.5.4, which endeavors to address issues facing many child soldiers. Information in this section was also not easily available.

22 Statement of the People's Advocate to the Latin American and Caribbean Conference on the Use of Children as soldiers, in Uruguay: July, 1999.

23 US Department of State, Colombia Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997.

Back to Index