Kids in Nepal continue to encounter rights abuses, UN report says

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United Nations, Apr 24 (UNI) Grave violations against children have not stopped in Nepal, though they have fallen significantly in number since the signing in 2006 of the comprehensive ceasefire agreement ending the South Asian nation's protracted armed conflict, according to a new UN report.

The report from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, released here yesterday, included recommendations calling for the enhanced legal protection of minors and stepped-up measures to end the recruitment of children by armed groups and reintegrate child soldiers back into the community at large.

It found that many children were recruited by the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) just before the accord was signed in 2006 and that no progress has since been made in formally discharging them, though some have been released informally.

Emerging social unrest in the Terai region in the country's south have also posed new risks for children, including recruitment by armed groups, according to the report, which covers the period from October 2006 to the end of last year.

Moreover, across the country, all major political parties are increasingly willing to use children in their political demonstrations, strikes and blockades.

The report recommended that the government should take ''significant steps'' in the areas of legal reform, accountability and reconciliation, including enacting a law that criminalizes the recruitment of persons aged less than 18 by armed groups.

''It should take further steps to ensure that law enforcement agencies and the courts investigate and prosecute crimes against children and strengthen legal institutions to ensure that human rights issues are addressed and also to ensure that any strengthening or reform of law enforcement and criminal justice systems are in line with international standards, the report stated.

Further, the government should ''make a clear commitment to the reintegration of children associated with armed forces and armed groups,'' in part by working with the UN and the CPN-M to set up an effective programme for the release and reintegration of such children.

Turning to the CPN-M, the report called on the party to take urgent steps to enter into a concrete action plan with the UN to implement its earlier commitment for the immediate and unconditional release of children in Maoist army cantonments. It also called on the party to end the obstacles to the reintegration of informally released children.

The report has been released less than two weeks after Nepalese voters went to the polls in historic elections to select the members of a Constituent Assembly, which is tasked with drafting a new constitution for the country.

UNI XC NC RAI0725

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