Forty-seven percent of the estimated 8,000 remaining members of the FARC joined the group as minors, said a new study done by Colombia’s Sergio Arboleda University.
Luis Andrés Fajardo, who led the research, said child recruitment is part of FARC policies, as per FARC documents he studied. He added the guerrilla does not recognize the Convention on the Rights of the Child as it was signed by the Colombian government and not by the FARC.
Fajardo’s most shocking finding — children join the illegal armed groups with the intention to later demobilize and so be eligible to participate in the government’s rehabilitation program for former combatants, which includes therapy, schooling, and funding for a “life project.” This shows the work of state-building that is ahead for Colombia.
Although child soldiers were also used by the ELN and the paramilitaries, the AUC, Fajardo’s research centered on the FARC so that the mistakes in past peace processes will not be repeated in the current one with the FARC in Havana.
He said, “.. It would be terrible if we went ahead with a process of transitional justice forgetting the crime that the International Criminal Court considers the worst of all.”
He added, “.. the truth is that in the current process there still lacks to define who are the most responsible of this crime and if they will be condemned for it.”
Fajardo found the FARC preferred recruiting indigenous children because they know their terrain, and they are used to withstanding the outdoors.