Human Rights Groups urged the UK military to stop recruiting under 18s

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Young soldiers formed

An open letter signed by a coalition of human rights groups, including Child Rights International Network, Amnesty International UK and Human Rights Watch, urged the defence Ministry to stop recruiting children aged under 18.

The letter declared that the UK military recruits more soldiers at 16 than any other age, especially for combat infantry roles, whereas most countries around the world only allow adults to be recruited. Additionally, this recruitment practice needs to end as “figures showed that girls aged under 18 in the armed forces made at least 16 formal complaints of sexual assault to military police in the last six years” informed The Guardian in an article released in June covering the MPs debate around the Armed Forces Bill.

The joint letter also said:

“The army argues that it provides underprivileged teenagers with a route out of unemployment, but since four-fifths of disadvantaged teenagers now continue in school or college from age 16, their enlistment typically brings their full-time education to an early end”.

A change in the military recruiting policy, claim the human rights groups, will allow young people “to enhance their academic or vocational qualifications” before considering if a career in the armed forces is something they want to pursue.

Source: The Guardian; Recruitment of under-18s to British military should end, ministers told; August 11, 2021. The Canary; The UK military should stop recruiting children, human rights organisations say; August 11, 2021. Child Rights International Network; Joint Letter to Secretary of State for Defence; August 11, 2021.