September 24, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - The rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has criticized the United Nations for welcoming the release by the sudanese government of child soldiers allegedly recruited by Darfur rebel groups saying the international body was deceived by the regime.
- Undated picture extended to Sudan Tribune on 28 April 2015 by the Justice and Equality Movement showing their fighters during a training exercise
Earlier this month, President Omer al-Bashir announced the release of twenty one children allegedly detained during the Gouz Dango battle with the JEM in April 2014.
However the rebel group denied that these children were part of its fighters reiterating its commitment to international conventions banning the use of child soldiers.
On Wednesday, the UN welcomed the release of the child soldiers and vowed to work with the Sudanese government to enhance the protection of children in the armed conflict affected areas in Sudan.
In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Saturday, JEM spokesperson Gibril Adam Bilal, underscored that his movement doesn’t recruit children and hence there is no child soldiers among its prisoners held by the regime.
He described the UN announcement that the move indicates the regime’s intention to implement the work plan developed by the UN last March as “strange and suspicious”.
“How did the UN know that those whom the regime claimed to have released were captured during the Gouz Dango battle?” he wondered.
Belal also wondered about the measures that the UN has taken to ensure the validity of the regime’s claims and to confirm that the children belong to the JEM.
JEM spokesperson described the UN move as “breach of the minimum standards of justice”, saying the international body took for granted the regime’s claims and didn’t consider the viewpoint of the movement.
“What is the legal justification that allows the regime to keep [these children] in the prison cells of its security organs and torture them physically and morally for 17 months without notifying their families or the United Nations or the competent organizations of their conditions and whereabouts?” he further wondered
The Sudanese army has been fighting a group of armed movements in Darfur since 2003.
According to the UN, 200,000 people have been killed in the conflict, and 2, 5 million chased from their homes.