UK guilty of sending child soldiers to Iraq

#1
here
The Scotsman said:
UK guilty of sending 'child soldiers' to Iraq
JAMES KIRKUP POLITICAL EDITOR (jkirkup@scotsman.com)

BRITAIN broke a United Nations treaty banning the use of child soldiers by sending underage troops - including 17-year-old girls - to Iraq, it has been revealed.

The Ministry of Defence has admitted that army commanders were put under pressure by successive deployments to Iraq and as a result broke international rules by sending soldiers who had not yet reached their 18th birthday.


The revelation is likely to reignite debate about the armed forces' recruitment of those young enough to be at school.

Britain in 2003 ratified the UN's Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.

The treaty obliges signatories to take "all feasible measures to ensure that members of their armed forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take a direct part in hostilities".

But the MoD has now admitted that during the first two years of the war in Iraq, 15 British service personnel aged 17 served in the country. As many as four of the 17-year-olds who did so were female.

Under military rules introduced after the ratification of the UN protocol, commanders may only deploy those under 18 in exceptional circumstances.

"Unfortunately, these processes are not infallible and the pressures on units prior to deployment have meant that there has been a small number of instances where soldiers have been inadvertently deployed to Iraq before their 18th birthday," the MoD said.

The forces - and the army in particular - are stepping up their recruitment work among the young as they struggle to maintain their numbers. Last year, over 14,000 people left the army and only 12,000 joined.

Teenagers are by far the largest recruiting group for the military. Last year, 2,760 new recruits to the three armed services were aged 16, and 3,415 were 17. By contrast, there were only 980 recruits aged 23 and 160 aged 28.

Part of the hiring drive has seen an increase in the number of recruitment events in schools, something that has proved especially controversial in Scotland.

Last year, figures released under the Freedom of Information Act showed that the number of regimental recruitment visits to Scottish schools has risen more than tenfold. There were 14 visits in 2003/04 and 153 in 2005/06.

The army can only visit schools to recruit when the local authority gives permission, and the Scottish National Party has been campaigning for such permission to be withdrawn.

Rose Gentle, of Military Families Against the War, called for a ban on recruiting under-18s. "They're still kids - they don't know what they really want to do with their lives," she said.
Edited to add link :blush:
 
#3
I do believe that it was a 17 year old matelot in HMS Gloucester that managed to prevent a US Warship being sunk during the first Gulf War.
 

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#4
And? If you're 16 in Scotland, you're an adult. What a pointless article.
 
#5
Fallschirmjager said:
and?

I wouldn't class a 17 year old as a child.
Oh no? She maybe be old enough to have sex but she is not even old enough to have voted for Blair whose war it is.
 
#6
By his 18th birthday my old man had done 3 months in South Armagh. He'd killed terrorists and earned a gong for his troubles. He went on to produce a "Handsome killing machine" so it can't be all that bad.

Why the need to point out that four were split arrses???

Not so Equal oppurtunities strikes again.
 
#7
because your supposed to be 18 to be deployed into active service this isnt something new either im sure other old n bold remember the under 18 platoons from the like of being in NI ....

Personaly i think its pump but the UN does class 'child soldiers' as anyone under 18.
 
#8
halo_jones said:
because your supposed to be 18 to be deployed into active service this isnt something new either im sure other old n bold remember the under 18 platoons from the like of being in NI ....

Personaly i think its pump but the UN does class 'child soldiers' as anyone under 18.
Lets not forget Deepcut, the age to stag with a gat on was increased to 18 as 17 y/olds are not yet adults and by law, not allowed to be armed on duty unless under supervsion by an NCO, I think 17 is just too young.
 
#9
I know 17 year old lads who i'd put in a platoon heading overseas that could easily replace some of the lads in there early twenties. Its about the character not a number. I suppose you have to draw a line somewhere but i dont think that line always needs to be at 18.
 
#10
Layer upon layer of crassness:

The whole international "child soldier" thing was aimed at ten-year old african kids conscripted into militias, and the like - and clearly not intended those outside the legal definition of adult by a couple of months, in a western democracy.

Still, given that there has been so much negative publicity about 17 year-olds in depot scandals and/or deployments to war zones, the MoD must have been absolutely stupid and incompetent not have filtered youngsters out of recent operational deployments. Idiots.
 
#11
heres a spanner in the works...i joined at 16 ...junior learders in 1991....i pledged my alegance etc etc at 16......i made a contract to the Queen at 16.......so my question is that being under 18 and still a child.....does all the above count???? or could i just Do one quiet legaly....
 
#12
newlynpirate said:
heres a spanner in the works...i joined at 16 ...junior learders in 1991....i pledged my alegance etc etc at 16......i made a contract to the Queen at 16.......so my question is that being under 18 and still a child.....does all the above count???? or could i just Do one quiet legaly....
I bet some dirty European human rights tosser could work something in there. Question is:

Would you have given your left leg (Not really) to go to NI with the boys instead of doing rear party. Your trained, your ready to go then you have to sit and wait.

I met a jock lad in Canada who wasn't even 17 yet but had passed out. He was doing BATUS with his Bn because he wanted to get all the experience he could. He came across as a very sensible cookie but i imagine he never deployed. However the 29 year old very much overweight Figian who did fcuk all but moan for the two days i worked with them probably did.
 
#13
International Law and UN Guidelines are simple. No one bothers to observe them, so why should we? But the MoD's own rules state you should not be deployed under the age of 18, then CO's should be interviewed without coffee for disobeying OUR own rules.

Simple solution - No one gets posted to a unit till AFTER their 18th Birthday, Get some driving courses in and/or adventure training. They will have no time once they are 18.
 
#14
Funny thing is: I remember escorting two 17 year old's from 2RTR down to Tidworth after we finished training in 1979. They were deemed too young to join the regt in Omagh at the time so they were kept with us at Tidders until they had reached 18.

They were actually deemed too young to travel alone which is why they had a 20 year old escorting them
 
#15
This report is utter bilge. It has been taken from an answer in Hansard in response to a question by Sarah Teather (a Lib Dem MP for London IIRC). Note that every serviceman deployed was either within a week of their birthday or they were RTU'd VV quickly.

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) 16, (b) 17 and (c) 18-year-olds have served in Iraq, broken down by gender. [117280]

Mr. Ingram: Data on the age and sex of service personnel deployed on operations are not held centrally.

Provisional estimates collated from manual records show that no 16-year-old and fifteen 17-year-old personnel have been deployed to Iraq since the ‘Optional Protocol to the Convention on the rights of the child on the involvement of children in armed conflict’ was ratified on 24 June 2003. None have been deployed since July 2005.

Fewer than five of the 17-year-old personnel deployed were female.

The vast majority of those that were deployed were within one week of their 18(th) birthdays or were removed from theatre within a week of their arrival.
1 Feb 2007 : Column 509W
Fewer than five 17-year-olds were deployed for a period of greater than three weeks.

New administrative guidelines and procedures have been introduced by each of the Services following the ratification of the Optional Protocol to ensure that under 18-year-old personnel are not deployed to areas where hostilities are taking place unless there is a clear operational requirement for them to do so. Unfortunately, these processes are not infallible and the pressures on units prior to deployment have meant that there have been a small number of instances where soldiers have been inadvertently deployed to Iraq before their 18(th) birthday, as described above.

Figures on those aged 18 could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

All numbers are rounded to the nearest five.
 
#16
jim30 said:
Fewer than five of the 17-year-old personnel deployed were female.
Stop empowering them. What difference does it make if they are female.


WE ARE AN EQUAL OPP's EMPLOYER. If blokes are going underage then so should the girls.

Down their fcuking necks all of them. If theres a problem then keep it simple. Make the minimum joining age 17 and a half.
 
#18
Do gooding PC Leftie tw@ts!!!

We are involved in more conflict now than we have been since Korea and they are worried about somebody being a little bit young or a teenage girl. Dont fcuking let them join the army if they're gonna winge.

Even better make it more inviting to an older audience and stop chopping us. That way CO's wont be desperate for man(Woman) power and they can leave these "Boy(Girl) soldiers" behind.
 
#19
Bad_Crow said:
Do gooding PC Leftie tw@ts!!!

We are involved in more conflict now than we have been since Korea and they are worried about somebody being a little bit young or a teenage girl. Dont fcuking let them join the army if they're gonna winge.

Even better make it more inviting to an older audience and stop chopping us. That way CO's wont be desperate for man(Woman) power and they can leave these "Boy(Girl) soldiers" behind.
I haven't seem amything about any of them whinging about being sent. The article seems to be about the breach of international humanitarian law. Whilst some people at 17 may be switched on and ready for conflict not all are, especially with the increase of PTSD. There has to be a cut off point and I think 18 is a reasonable one.

Re the point they make about girls. Why do they always feel the need to single girls out as if they are any different.? They are all soldiers at the end of the day. It is hard enough for girls to be accepted in the army as it is whithout some stupid journo / politician singling us out as if we need preferential treatment.
 
#20
I see from Jim30's post that it was Sarah Teather MP who asked, in her parliamentary question, for the figures to be broken down by gender. In which case we can hardly blame MoD or the minister for answering in the form requested.

There is an article on the same subject in the current issue of New Statesman magazine, available online at this link:

New Statesman - Britain's Child Army
 

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