Practice Relating to Rule 135. Children
Liberia’s Act to Establish the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2005) states:
Considering that the civil conflict was generally characterized by gross violations of human rights and the widespread commission of gruesome and heinous crimes against humanity in further violation of international humanitarian laws and standards.
Article IV. Mandate of the Commission
Section 4. The objectives/purpose of the Commission shall be to promote national peace, security, unity and reconciliation by:
(e) Adopting specific mechanisms and procedures to address the experiences of … children … , paying particular attention to … the issue of child soldiers, providing opportunities for them to relate their experiences, addressing concerns and recommending measures to be taken for the rehabilitation of victims of human rights violations in the spirit of national reconciliation and healing.
The Act also states:
The TRC [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] … functions and powers shall include … :
(f) Helping restore the human dignity of victims and promote reconciliation by providing an opportunity for victims, witnesses, and others to give an account of the violations and abuses suffered and for perpetrators to relate their experiences, in an environment conducive to constructive interchange between victims and perpetrators, giving special attention to the … experiences of children … during armed conflicts in Liberia.
In 2009, in its combined second, third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Liberia stated:
173. Working with UNDP and UNICEF, the Government implemented the Disarmament, Demobilisation, and Reintegration Programme. The Programme commenced in December 2003 and had disarmed 103,912 persons by December 2004. The number of children demobilised was 11,780. Of these, 2,738 were girls while 9,042 were boys.
302. Much was accomplished through the Disarmament and Demobilisation for Children Associated with Fighting Forces in Liberia. The 9,042 and 2,738 together represented 11 per cent of individuals who were disarmed through the programme in the country. The programme, which was the first to pay a transitional safety allowance, had many partners including UNDP, UNICEF, and child protection agencies in the country.
Liberia also stated:
196. The Government and its partners have accomplished much to reintegrate children that were demobilised after the war. Assisted by partners such as UNICEF, the Government implemented the Reintegration Programme for Children Associated with Fighting Forces. The Programme aimed at social and economic reintegration, community reintegration, and education through vocational skills and apprenticeships. In addition to helping establish 293 child welfare committees, the programme contributed towards the formation of 228 children’s clubs and 193 youth clubs to facilitate greater participation for the children.
197. As of April 2007, 217 of the child welfare committees, 163 of the children’s clubs, and 35 of the youth groups were still active. The results included 50 per cent of the children associated with the fighting forces being returned to school. In addition, many possess vocational and business skills and apprenticeship and work-related experiential knowledge. An evaluation of the programme certified that the children were well accepted and appreciated in their communities, following the programme.
198. A less successful result was with regard to the economic reintegration, largely because of the poor economic situation obtaining in the country. Currently, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Women and Children Protection Section of the Police do significant rehabilitation work. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is required to:
[A]ddress the experiences of women, children and vulnerable groups, paying particular attention to gender based violation, as well as to the issues of child soldiers, providing opportunities for them to relate their experiences, addressing concerns and recommending measures to be taken for the rehabilitation of victims of human rights violations in the spirit of national reconciliation and healing.
[footnote in original omitted]
Liberia further stated:
Since the end of war, the Government has worked with its partners to strengthen the protection of children in the country. Starting with the economic, education, and social integration of children who were associated with fighting forces, the efforts have gradually extended to other child protection areas, such as juvenile justice and the institutionalisation of children.