Chad: Amnesty International Welcomes House Amendment to Prohibit Military Spending in Chad

Press Release
February 18, 2011

Chad: Amnesty International Welcomes House Amendment to Prohibit Military Spending in Chad

Amnesty International USA Press Release
Thursday, February 17, 2011

Amnesty International Welcomes House Amendment to Prohibit Military Spending in Chad

At Issue is Recruitment of Children as Soldiers in Chad

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, strimel@aiusa.org

(Washington) – Scott Edwards, Amnesty International USA Advocacy Director for Africa, made the following comments today about an amendment that would prohibit U.S. military assistance to the African nation of Chad:

““Amnesty International welcomes the amendment offered by Congressman Jeff Fortenberry. This amendment gives Congress an opportunity to send a strong signal to Chad – and to other governments around the world – that U.S. taxpayers will not tolerate military spending in countries that are allowing guns to be put in the hands of children and compelling them to fight wars. If these countries are turning a blind eye to the recruitment of children as soldiers, the United States should not be supporting their military.”

“Amnesty International recently issued a report from Chad that documents the tragedy affecting thousands of teenagers and children even younger who are denied their childhood and manipulated by adults into fighting their wars,” said Edwards. “Surely American taxpayers do not want their money funding a situation in which children are being exploited and their childhoods are literally being stolen. What’s more, the recruitment of children is worsening the security situation in the region for all.”

The Amnesty International report issued February 9 included testimony from more than 40 former and current child soldiers from Chad and the Darfur region of Sudan who described how they were compelled to join the Chad army and armed groups. The children are recruited as soldiers from refugee and displacement camps housing up to half a million people in eastern Chad. The camps prove to be fertile recruiting grounds for children as the residents have little access to education, few employment opportunities and have often lost relatives and friends in the fighting, according to the report, “A compromised future: The plight of children recruited by armed forces and groups in eastern Chad.”

“Amnesty International is demanding that the Chadian government – and the Chadian and Sudanese armed groups operating in eastern Chad – immediately stop the recruitment and use of children under 18 and release all children from their ranks,” said Edwards.