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Philippines army fabricated ‘child warriors’

Human Rights Watch has accused the Philippines army of falsely labeling innocent children as members of the rebel New People’s Army and taking them into custody.

In a press release, Elaine Pearson deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said,

“The army is concocting stories of rebel child soldiers that are putting children at risk for propaganda purposes. The government should get the military to stop this despicable practice and investigate the officers involved.”

The New York-based group investigated three cases of alleged child soldiers being captured by the government forces and found “strong evidence”, that all the charges against them were fabricated.

The statement went on to say,

“In each of the cases investigated, the army paraded the children in front of the media, publicly branding them rebels.”

They also noted that international humanitarian law prohibited the exhibition of captured combatants to the public, including to the media.

Looking at the case of one child, 17-year old “Rose” who was displayed to the media as an NPA child soldier, she told the group,

“The many interviews disturbed me. I was scared and confused…. I was not free to go anywhere; a soldier was always following me... "

"The military really made me feel like I was NPA.”

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