Colombian Army Accused of Using Children to Infiltrate FARC

News from Colombia | on: Thursday, 19 February 2009

The International Committee for the Red Cross has confirmed that leftwing FARC guerrillas in Colombia last month handed over a minor to them who the guerrillas said the Army had sent to infiltrate their ranks. Red Cross spokesman Yves Heller said that the girl, Angelica Martinez, was handed to the organisation by the rebels sometime in mid-January but would not give further details.

A FARC communiqué alleges that the girl, from the town of La Union, had confessed to having been sent to infiltrate the guerrillas by the intelligence unit of the 8th Brigade of the Colombian Army. Her orders were to gather intelligence on guerrilla activities before deserting and handing the information over to the military. When discovered, the rebels handed her to the Red Cross.

Despite the Geneva Convention specifically prohibiting the use of minors in warfare thousands of children are still caught up in the Colombian conflict. Last September, for example, Sergio Caramagna, the special representative of the Organisation of American States (OAS) to Colombia, denounced that in at least three provinces of the country paramilitary groups are forcibly recruiting children to their ranks. The Colombian Government claims that the paramilitaries have demobilised which human rights groups say is simply untrue.

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