Practice Relating to Rule 136. Recruitment of Child Soldiers
Sierra Leone’s Child Rights Act (2007) states:
(1) Every child has the right to be protected from involvement in armed or any other kind of violent conflicts, and accordingly, the minimum age of recruitment into the armed forces shall be eighteen.
(2) The Government shall not -
(a) recruit or conscript any child into military or para-military service or permit such recruitment or conscription by the armed forces.
In 2006, in its second periodic report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Sierra Leone stated that “upon ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict in May 2002, the minimum age of recruitment into the Armed Forces was increased from 17½ years, as provided by the Military Forces Act (1961), to 18 years”.
In 2008, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Sierra Leone stated:
2. The Government of Sierra Leone signed and ratified the Protocol on 8 September 2000 and 15 May 2002, respectively. In consequence, the country declared that the minimum age of recruitment into its armed forces shall thenceforth be eighteen (18) years. Prior to this, section 16 (2) of the Sierra Leone Military Forces Act (1961) permitted recruitment of persons above “the apparent age of 17 and half years” or of persons below that age and for whom written consent would have had to be given by their parents/guardians.
4. Ever since 2002, mass sensitization and education campaigns were undertaken … to ensure that no person below the age of eighteen (18) years should be recruited into any fighting or security force in Sierra Leone.
10. The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces Recruitment Policy (2004) and Recruitment Act (2006) strictly prohibits “Voluntary” and “Compulsory” enlistment of all persons below 18 years.