Group: South Sudan military still recruiting children
South Sudan's military and rebel forces are recruiting children despite assurances to the contrary, Human Rights Watch disclosed yesterday, citing children and parents interviewed last month.
The country's military has enlisted boys as young as 13, often by force, in Upper Nile state, the rights watchdog said.
The allegations were strongly denied by two senior South Sudanese officials who said standing orders forbid the army from recruiting children.
"We issued orders to the army that they should not recruit children into the army," South Sudan Defence Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk told The Associated Press yesterday. "I have also asked members of civil society to raise a case against any commanding officer or unit that recruits children into the (military). I have also informed the state governors to monitor and stop any commanders and army units trying to recruit children."
It was not immediately possible to get comment from the rebels.
South Sudan's warring factions have faced persistent allegations of using child soldiers in a conflict that pits government troops loyal to President Salva Kiir against rebel forces led by former Vice President Riek Machar.