Press Release
September 23, 2013

...urges AFP, PNP to turnover detained kids to DSWD

The warrior is a child.

Senator Nancy Binay today condemned the Moro National Liberation Front's (MNLF) scheme to use minors in times of war and armed conflicts particularly in their siege of Zamboanga City.

Binay likewise urged the local police and the military to release and turnover to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) at least three minors suspected of being "child warriors" used by the MNLF.

The senator was citing the report by journalist Carlos Conde of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) who personally saw the three "child warriors".

The police have arrested and detained three teenagers last week who were loosely identified by the military as combatants of the MNLF.

"I would like to ask the Zamboanga City police and military authorities to immediately release these minors who are being treated like rebels and ordinary criminals." Binay said.

The HRW report said that these minors were being detained with handcuffs in a cramped cell together with hard convicts.

"Child warriors or not, these children are not battle-tested soldiers nor armed fighters... they are victims of conflict and should be treated humanely and with compassion," Binay noted.

The lady senator said these "child warriors" should be afforded with empathy and compassion, and should not be denied of their right to justice under the protection of the international juvenile justice standards.

Binay wanted them to undergo psychological debriefing so that they can have their lives back as children and teenagers.

"These children are being robbed of their childhood as well as subjected to psychological stress and trauma. Those in the military should know better," she said.

In war-torn regions, child warriors are used as human shields, spies, messengers, fighters and sex slaves.

"Under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, we have an obligation to prevent those who have not reached 18 years old from taking part in the hostilities," she stressed.

Binay appealed to police and military authorities to immediately turnover the arrested children to the DSWD for the needed social intervention, medical attention and psychological debriefing prescriptions.

"Let them grow up away from violence and the horrors of war, after all, they are children," she said.

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