Practice Relating to Rule 135. Children
Burundi’s Regulations on International Humanitarian Law (2007) states concerning prisoners of war that “children must be treated with due regard to … their age”.
In 2008, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Burundi stated:
7. In 2003, … the Government had already begun with the demobilization of child soldiers, initiating a plan to that effect in conjunction with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank. The objectives of the plan are to demobilize all child soldiers [and] reintegrate them into society …
64. … [A] programme to demobilize child soldiers ha[s] been under way since 2003. The demobilization programme began in 2001 with a number of studies, followed in 2002 by consultations among the various stakeholders, the administration and the communities concerned. A national demobilization structure for these children has been in place since March 2003.
302. As noted in the introduction, in 2002 the Government launched a programme for the demobilization of children who had taken part in the armed conflicts. The target groups are:
- Child soldiers recruited by the government army
- Police officers
- Children who fought on the side of the armed movements which signed ceasefire agreements
303. Objectives of the programme:
- Demobilize 90 per cent of all child soldiers (estimated at 3,000) in military formations of the government army and in the targeted rebel factions over a period of 12 months
- Reintegrate all demobilized child soldiers into their communities over a period of eight months
304. The programme has attained its objectives because more than 3,000 children have been demobilized. It is pursuing the reintegration and prevention process, providing material aid to children who are still able to go to school or wish to earn a living. The children receive psychological counselling from organizations which have concluded agreements under the programme.
305. The Government has devised a plan for the demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers with the financial support of the World Bank. The objective is to achieve the social reintegration of 1,440 demobilized child soldiers old enough to work through a subsidy to help them find a decent job and regular income.