On 19 March 2021, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs): lhan Kyuchyuk, Nicolae Ştefănuță, Olivier Chastel and Dominique Riquet from the Renew Group in the European Parliament, posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“The enrolment of child soldiers by the Polisario Front is regularly denounced to the relevant UN mechanisms, which often deplore that the organisation’s leaders do not hesitate to recruit children aged 12 and 13 as soldiers and use them in military parades.
Several international non-governmental organisations and media outlets have denounced this heinous practice, which violates the basic rights of children. The Spanish online news site Tribunalibre.info published an article entitled ‘Child soldiers in the Polisario Front’ containing recent video footage showing children in uniforms in a military parade on Algerian soil.
Photos and videos testify to the growing and worrying extent of this phenomenon in the camps of Tindouf, Algeria.
1. What measures does the European External Action Service intend to take in order to protect the rights of these children in military camps and prevent their exploitation in the future?
2. What measures could the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy take in order to get Algeria to respect its international commitments regarding violations of children’s rights committed on its soil?”
On 4 May 2021, High Representative-Vice-President Josep Borrell, responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The European External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Commission are closely following the human rights situation in Algeria, including in the Tindouf area, and are not aware of recruitment of child soldiers by the Polisario Front or of their participation in military parades. However, the EEAS stands ready to pursue inquiries if any elements of substance or evidence are brought to its attention.
Human rights are essential components of the EU’s foreign policy and of its regular dialogue with partner countries, notably through the regular monitoring performed by the EU Delegations. Respect for human rights is enshrined in the Algerian Constitution and also a key element of EU-Algeria relations, as reflected in the Association Agreement and reinforced by the Partnership Priorities. The EU is committed to ensuring its implementation.”
Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/photos/auto-military-algeria-ras-el-oued-5041603/