You'll Learn Not to Cry: Child Combatants in Colombia

Citation:

Brett, Sebastian. 2003. You’ll Learn Not to Cry: Child Combatants in Colombia. New York: Human Rights Watch.

Author: Sebastian Brett

Abstract:

More than 11,000 children fight in Colombia's armed conflict, one of the highest totals in the world. Both guerrilla and paramilitary forces rely on child combatants, who have committed atrocities and are even made to execute other children who try to desert. The first comprehensive report published on this issue, "You'll Learn Not to Cry" documents how Colombia's illegal armies have recruited increasing numbers of children in recent years. Only Burma (Myanmar) and the Democratic Republic of Congo are believed to have significantly larger numbers of child combatants than Colombia. The 150-page book, based on interviews with 112 former child combatants, documents how both guerrillas and paramilitaries exploit the desperation of poor children in rural combat zones. Many join up for food or physical protection, to escape domestic violence, or because of promises of money. Some are coerced to join at gunpoint, or join out of fear. Others are street children with nowhere to go. Children as young as thirteen are trained to use assault rifles, grenades and mortars. Human Rights Watch urged guerrilla and paramilitary forces to end all recruitment of children under the age of eighteen and to demobilize the children in their ranks. Pending complete demobilization, the group urged the following immediate and unconditional steps: firmly prohibit forcible recruitment; allow those who wish to leave without reprisals; cease executions of children; and provide proper medical care for the sick or wounded. (Human Rights Watch)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Child Soldiers, Domestic Violence, Gender, Girls, Boys, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Paramilitaries Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Colombia

Year: 2003

© 2017 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.