Geneva: India should carry out the recommendations of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to improve protection for children affected by armed conflict, Human Rights Watch has said.
The Child Rights Committee made its recommendations to India public on June 19, 2014, in Geneva.
Non-state armed groups should halt their recruitment and use of children and attacks on schools, Human Rights Watch said.
"Children from India`s poorest and most marginalised communities are ending up on the front lines as combatants, or because their schools are bombed by armed groups. The UN has laid out a series of steps that the government should take to protect these children better," said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
The Child Rights Committee stated that it was "deeply concerned" about opposition Maoist forces in central India as well as armed groups in the northeast, Jammu, and Kashmir recruiting and using anyone under 18 in hostilities. Human Rights Watch has previously documented Maoist forces` use of children as young as 12 in armed operations. Human Rights Watch has also documented unlawful Maoist attacks on schools.
The committee urged India to promptly enact legislation that criminalises the recruitment and use of anyone under 18 in hostilities by non-state armed groups. It also said India should take all necessary measures to prevent and eliminate the root causes of forced recruitment of children from poor and marginalized segments of society by non-state armed groups. Unlawful attacks on schools should be promptly investigated, and those responsible should be prosecuted and punished, the committee said.
The Child Rights Committee also expressed concern about government armed forces occupying schools in Maoist-affected areas, despite Supreme Court rulings prohibiting the practice.
The committee said that India should "take all necessary measures to prevent the occupation and use of ... places with a significant presence of children, such as schools, in line with international humanitarian law, expedite the vacation of schools as appropriate and take concrete measures to ensure that cases of unlawful ... occupation of schools are promptly investigated, and that perpetrators are prosecuted and punished."