HRW says armed Ivorian militants recruiting children in Liberia
Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims that armed militants hostile to the Ivorian government have been recruiting Liberian children inside Liberia.
The New York based rights group in a report released on Wednesday that Liberian authorities have failed to investigate and prosecute dozens of Liberian and Ivorian nationals who crossed into Liberia, after allegedly committing war crimes during Ivory Coast post-election crisis.
In its report, HRW “called on the Liberian government to take immediate measures to protect children from recruitment into armed groups. Human Rights Watch urged the Liberian government to ratify speedily the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, which it signed in 2004. The protocol prohibits any armed group from recruiting children under 18 and obliges governments to take measures to prevent and criminalize such practices.”
The rights group further claims that some of them have carried out deadly cross-border raids on Ivorian villages in recent months.
According to HRW, at least 40 Ivorian residents, including women and children, have been killed during four cross-border attacks since July 2011.
It said the attacks targeted civilians from ethnic groups who largely support President Alassane Ouattara.
“For well over a year, the Liberian government has had its head in the sand in responding to the flood of war criminals who crossed into the country at the end of the Ivorian crisis,” said Matt Wells, West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.