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It is illegal to use under-age children to fight terrorism – Human Rights Activist

Human rights activist, Mr. Richard Akinola, has said it is illegal to use under-age school children as civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) in the fight against terrorism in the North-East.
Mr. Akinola, who is also the Director, Media Law Centre, called on the Federal Government to have a media awareness to dissuade parents and people who surrender their school-age children in armed conflicts.
Mr. Akinola said this at a two-day training on human rights reporting and accountability for reporters in Abuja.
The training was organised by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) in collaboration with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWRP).
“There are international and domestic laws against the use of child soldiers, trafficking, child labour/slavery, and sexual exploitation of vulnerable groups. The media must engage these international and domestic laws to protect the rights of vulnerable groups in Nigeria.
He said the use of school-age children for armed conflicts violated international conventions on child rights protection.
Mr. Akinola said: “It is clearly illegal to have children under 15 years old in armed conflicts. It is wrong to use children. They are illegal combatants. Whether for civilian joint task force or terrorists.
“We can have children supplying intelligence to security agencies but they must not be armed.
“The adoption of the Conventions on the rights of the children by the United Nations in 1989 formed the fulcrum of the international framework against armed conflicts. It was used in Sierra Leone, Syria and other countries.”
The legal expert, who condemned prevalent abuses against children in the country, added that Nigeria subscribed to several international charters and conventions which prohibited the use of children for child labour, human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children.