Committee VIII of the Indonesian House of Representatives has approved a Bill on the Ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict).
The approval was the conclusion of the Working Meeting of the House of Representatives Committee VIII with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Women and Child Protection and officials representing the Minister for Defence and Minister of Justice and Human RightsonJune 6, 2012 which discussed the Bill on the Ratification of the Optional Protocol.
The success of the bill reflects the commitment of the Government and House of Representatives to continue to promote, fulfill, respect and protect the rights of children, particularly in ensuring that children are not involved or victimized in armed conflict.
"The ratification will provide stronger guarantee for the future of Indonesia to continue to uphold the principles of child rights protection, especially in armed conflict. In addition, Indonesia will be incorporated in the network of global cooperation to enhance the protection of children, especially in armed conflict," said the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Marty Natalegawa, on the occasion of the Working Meeting.
Currently there is still a global challenge in which a number of armed conflicts in various parts of the world still involve children, both recruited to become soldiers or child soldiers. Children are also often targeted and used as a part of the war strategy, both by the armed forces of a state or non-state armed groups. There are approximately 10,000 children involved in armed conflicts in at least 15 countries.
The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict reinforcse the ban on children under the age of 18 years to be involved directly in armed conflict. The minimum age limit is also applicable to non-state armed groups. The Optional Protocol is also the first international legal instrument governing the behavior of non-state armed groups, not to involve children in armed conflict.
Indonesia has been actively involved in the process of drafting and ratification of the Optional Protocol and signed the protocol on September 24, 2001. Currently, 147 countries have become States Parties to this Protocol.
The substance of the Optional Protocol is in line with the spirit of the constitution or related laws and regulations. Indonesia has had the Law No. 23 of 2002 on the Protection of Child, which expressly provides special protection to children in emergency situations, including in armed conflict, prohibits the recruitment or use of children for military purposes and set the criminalization of such action.
In addition, the Law No. 34 of 2004 on the Indonesian military (TNI) has also set a minimum age limit of 18 years of Indonesian citizens to become members of the TNI. A restriction that is consistent with the Protocol and the content is higher than the standards stipulated in the Convention on the Rights of Child.
Bill on the Ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict attaches an integral instrument of ratification of the declaration of Indonesia where the minimum age of recruitment of voluntary confirmed to be soldiers is 18 years old, and recruitment is conducted openly and also requires a birth certificate and proof of parent or legal guardian’s approval.
Efforts to ratify the Optional Protocol is also in line with the recommendations within the framework of the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review on Indonesia in the first round in 2008 and in the second round at the end of last month. The ratification is also an implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan for Indonesia in 2011 to 2014. (Source: Dit. HAM)