UN concerned over use of children as human shields by Maoists
United Nations: The UN has expressed concern over the killing and maiming of children who continue to be recruited and used as human shields by Maoists in India and over the threat of sexual violence against girls within Naxalite ranks.
The Annual Report of the UN Secretary-General on children and armed conflict, released here on Tuesday, said the recruitment and use of children, as young as six-years-old, by Naxalites, continued in 2013.
While no disaggregated data on the number of children associated with armed groups in India was available to the UN, it said independent estimates indicate at least 2,500 children are associated with armed groups in Naxal-affected areas. It cited data of the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs and said boys and girls aged six to 12 years were recruited into specific children units, known as 'Bal Dasta' and 'Bal Sangham', in Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha States.
The report said children also continued to be placed in front of combat units as human shields.
"Taking into account the use of children as human shields by the Naxalites, the United Nations is concerned about the killing and maiming of children in hostilities," it said.
Noting that Naxalite recruitment affects girls and women, the report said the presence of girls within Naxalite ranks also raises concerns regarding sexual violence against them. Based on statements of several women formerly associated with Naxalite groups, sexual violence, including rape and other forms of abuse, is a practice in some Naxalite camps, the report said. "The recruitment and use of children remains to be criminalized by law.
Of particular concern were several reports on the treatment of children allegedly associated with armed groups...children arrested under security legislation are often detained with adults, not tried through the juvenile justice system and deprived of their right to due process of law," it said.
While no disaggregated data on children killed or maimed in clashes between Maoist armed groups and security forces was available, at least 257 civilians, 101 security forces elements, and 97 Naxalite members were killed in 2013 in 998 incidents.