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Children and Human Rights||
Across the world children are denied their human rights,
including for example, their right to education. They
are recruited into armed forces.
They are subjected to the death penalty, are disappeared, are punished by cruel
and inhumane methods and suffer many other forms of violence.
Worldwide, hundreds of thousands of children under 18 have been affected
by armed conflict.
They are recruited into government armed forces, paramilitaries, civil
militia and a variety of other armed groups. Often they are abducted at school,
on the streets or at home. Others enlist “voluntarily”, usually because they
see few alternatives. Yet international law prohibits the participation in armed
conflict of children aged under 18.Other forms of violence against children
It means that in reality girls and
boys illegally and under force, participate in combat where frequently they are
injured or killed. Others are used as spies, messengers, porters, servants or
to lay or clear landmines. Girls are at particular risk of rape and other sexual
Such children are robbed of their childhood and exposed to
terrible dangers and to psychological and physical suffering.
Children routinely face other violence - at school, in institutions meant for
their protection, in juvenile detention centres and too often in their own
Violence against children happens in all parts of the world.
A small - and diminishing - number of countries execute those who were
children at the time of their offences. Since 2004, only China, Iran, Pakistan
and Sudan have put child offenders to death. Ending the execution of child
offenders is a major objective in itself and an important step on the road to
total abolition of the death penalty.
The right to education
Everyone has the right to education—which should be available free to all at
least at the primary level. Education is also indispensable in realizing other
Across the world many children miss out on their education
- they are made to work,
- they are recruited into armed forces,
- their families do not have the means to pay for schooling,
- discrimination and racism undermine their chance to receive an
- they face violence as they pursue their education.
School fees and related costs are a common barrier to education. These
charges - which may be called “voluntary” quotas, matriculation fees or
examination costs - are a greater burden for children from poor families, and
they disproportionately affect those who are racial and ethnic minorities,
members of Indigenous communities and migrants.There are estimated to be between 100 million and 150 million street
children in the world, and this number is growing. Of those some 5-10% have run
away from or been abandoned by their families.
Under international law, the participation of children under 18 in armed
conflict is generally prohibited, and the recruitment and use of children under
15 is a war crime.
Around 4,500 children are currently in detention in Pakistan. More than
3,000 of them have not been convicted of any offence; their trials have either
still yet to start or have not yet been completed.
Girls are more likely to be excluded from school than boys when there
isn’t enough money to go round.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989 to
protect the rights of children, is the most widely ratified human rights treaty
in history. It encompasses civil rights and freedoms, family environment, basic
health and welfare, education, leisure and cultural activities and special
protection measures for children.
Examples of what Amnesty International is doing
As a member of the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Amnesty
International works to end the recruitment of children into armed forces and to
reintegrate former child soldiers back into civilian life.
Amnesty International has recommended that Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia
and Slovenia take immediate action to prohibit discrimination against Roma in
education, and take further steps towards eliminating discrimination against
Romani children and promoting equality in education.
Around the world, Amnesty International members, including its Youth and
Student network, are campaigning to prevent the unnecessary imprisonment of
children in Pakistan.
On 25 May 2000, the UN General Assembly adopted the Optional Protocol to the
Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed
conflict. This represents a milestone in protecting children from participation
in armed conflicts.
107 states were parties to the Protocol including
three of the five permanent members of the Security Council (France, UK and USA)
but not the Russian Federation and China. Although the Russian Federation has
signed the Protocol, it has yet to ratify it and to incorporate it into national
To mark the sixth anniversary of the Protocol’s adoption, Amnesty
International, together with the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers,
called on the Russian Federation to ratify it without any further delay and set
18 years as the standard minimum age for voluntary recruitment into its armed