Practice Relating to Rule 136. Recruitment of Child Soldiers
Bangladesh’s International Crimes (Tribunal) Act (1973) states that the “violation of any humanitarian rules applicable in armed conflicts laid down in the Geneva Conventions of 1949” is a crime.
In 2004, 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, Bangladesh stated:
2. The recruitment rules of the Bangladesh Army do not permit any person who has not attained the age of 18 to participate in any armed hostilities.
3. There is no provision for compulsory recruitment into the armed forces in Bangladesh.
4. The following are the age limits for the voluntary enrolment of recruits in:
(a) The Bangladesh Army:
- Combats: 17–20 years;
- Non-combats: 17–20 years;
- Commissioned ranks: 17–40 years.
After being enrolled all of them have to complete their respective basic training courses prior to their employment for actual services.
In 2007, in its combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Bangladesh stated:
370. Bangladesh does not allow its under-18 citizens to serve in the positions in armed forces, police, Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) … Ansar (Auxiliary Force) and Village Defence Party (VDP). Persons are recruited in the armed forces on [a] strictly voluntary basis … No one is recruited in Police, VDP and Ansar at an age below 18 years.
443. Bangladesh has signed and ratified the  Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (ICAC) on 6 September 2000 …
444. [Bangladesh] … reiterates that the minimum age for recruitment and deployment in all branches of law enforcement and defence is in conformity with the Optional Protocol and there is clear government direction in this regard. The Government need not have a separate legislation in this respect.
446. With regard to the consent of parents or legal guardians for the recruitment of under-18, [Bangladesh] does not think it is necessary since the actual induction of persons in different forces [is] done only when the person attains the age of 18. The training period is not considered to be [part of] the service period and [is therefore] not a violation of the provisions of the Optional Protocol [on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict].
447. [Bangladesh] … does not believe that there are any major issues around possible military training that children undergo in any part of the country including the “madrasahs”. This is illegal as per the law of the land and the government takes stern actions against anyone found involved in this kind of activities. Recently, the government tried a number of persons involved in these activities and gave the highest punishment, [the] death sentence, to them which was also carried out. The government maintains strict vigilance against any such activities to happen in future.
The GoB [Government of Bangladesh] is fully aware of the responsibility to guarantee that no child is enrolled in [the] army under the minimum age and a systematic process has already been established to verify the age [of enrolled persons]. Minimum age of recruitment in [the] Bangladesh Army is 17 years. This recruitment process takes six months … after which the candidates undergo recruit training for another six months. As such, all of them attain the minimum 18 years of age to become a solider in [the] Bangladesh Army.