International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Colombia Ruling on Reparations for Child Soldiers

On December 16th, 2011 Colombian courts made the world’s first ruling mandating reparations be paid for the illegal conscription of child soldiers. The ruling was made in relation to a lawsuit against Fredy Rendón Herrera, alias “El Alemán,” former leader of the armed Élmer Cárdenas paramilitary group. The Rendón trial established that 309 minors were illegally recruited by the paramilitary group and will receive reparations including monetary compensation and medical and psychological care.

Demobilized in 2006, these now adults face lives of rejection and discrimination from their communities.  Due to the extremely demanding nature of paramilitary work, some of these youth suffered terrible injuries and have  trouble getting the physical care they need, not to mention homes and jobs. Carlos Lozano Acosta of ICTJ’s Colombia office stated that the reparations “should seek to remedy the loss of childhood and, to the extent they can, the opportunities lost with it.” When asked, many young people said that they would feel compensated by access to an education and job opportunities.

Additional compensation is to be made to girls recruited by paramilitary groups “who were in a situation of potential assault or harassment from other combatants”, as well as those recruited at extremely young ages.

http://ictj.org/news/colombia-first-ruling-requiring-reparations-recruitment-minors

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3 responses to “Colombia Ruling on Reparations for Child Soldiers

  1. c131178n February 8, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    This Cambodian Court’s eye-opening decision on reparations for child soldiers is very crucial as a first step in healing the former youth paramilitaries. Monetary compensation, medical and psychological cares are very first imperatives for them to restore a normal life. However, as a true means of carrying out restorative justice, more measures should be done. According to the article, many young people feel compensated by access to an education and job opportunities, however, unnecessary rejection or discrimination from the community prevents them from having such opportunities. The quote from victims’ representative Elizabeth Díaz, “people are afraid of them, and they’re afraid too” best describes the reality. In addition to reparations, measures such as community building by town meetings can be effective. Besides, as Carlos Lozano Acosta of ICTJ’s Colombia office mentions, the acknowledgement of victim status may help change the social norm for discrimination.

  2. aboampon February 10, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    I found this new ruling on reparations for child soldiers to be fascinating. In class while learning about the issue I found myself wondering if these victims were/ had been taken care of by the UN or another organization, because they are indeed victims. It seems most logical and most just to treat those who were pulled into war this way as one would any other victim of conflict. I can completely understand how members of the community would be fearful or wary of the re-introduction of this former child solider into society. This type of situation would be very difficult for all parties involved. A way in which to possibly remedy this situation would be by first completely rehabilitating these former child soldiers than allowing them to move to a new country so that they can use the opportunity that has been given to them. These measures are often taken with refugees, therefore I feel similar programs could be set in this case. The article deals specifically with the thoughts and feelings of those living in communities in Columbia, but as we’ve learned in class issues with the conscription of children into war is a somewhat widespread practice. The book A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Solider, by Ishmeal Beah, deals with many of these issues and is a very interesting read. In this true story the main character Beah was successfully able to relocate to the United States, and lead a meaningful life. All after having had the better part of his childhood stripped away from him as a child soldier.

  3. umassyl February 11, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    I found this article to be very interesting one. I believe that these kids should have been paid reparations earlier. In today’s society our military personnel goes through intensive training to be prepared for these harsh military environments. They also have to be tested and cleared by medical/ psychological personnel after they leave the military to help make sure their time in the military didn’t psychologically hinder them. I can’t image what these kids have gone through and with no way of dealing with the situation that they were put in. Along with the reparations they should be psychological tested and guided.

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