We wrote recently to all the Children’s Commissioners in Scotland Wales and N. Ireland about money paid by the MOD to ‘hush up’ abuse allegations in the Military Cadet Forces (link):
We have had a very prompt and positive response which shows that the Commissioner in Scotland, Tam Baillie, is actively engaged on these issues and the broader agenda of involvement of under 18s in Cadet Forces.
In addition to the reply set out below, from Enquiries Officer Linda Ellis Macdonald additional correspondence was received outlining the exchange between the Commissioner and MOD in 2015 relating to the UNCRC Optional protocol and recruitment. This correspondence is not included with this post:
“Dear Mr Moffatt,
Thank you for your letter of 3 December to the Commissioner, following up your January 2015 letter in which you noted your concerns about physical and sexual abuse in UK military cadet forces. I have attached copies of our letter to the MOD and their response, for your information.
In regard to the question and request for information in your most recent letter:
1. Can I ask if you have taken any steps to monitor child safety in the military cadet forces and ascertain if any abuse has taken place in your area of jurisdiction?
The Commissioner has not taken any action to monitor child safety in military cadet forces in Scotland.
2. I do look forward to hearing what steps if any you have taken to investigate this matter.
The Commissioner has not undertaken any investigation of child safety in military cadet forces in Scotland.
The Commissioner has recently focused his attention on calling for a ban on the recruitment of under-18s to the military, as reflected in the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, which says that:
Noting that article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child specifies that, for the purposes of that Convention, a child means every human being below the age of 18 years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier,
Convinced that an optional protocol to the Convention that raises the age of possible recruitment of persons into armed forces and their participation in hostilities will contribute effectively to the implementation of the principle that the best interests of the child are to be a primary consideration in all actions concerning children,
This was also noted in the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s Concluding Observations, calling for the UK Government to ‘consider reviewing its position and raise the minimum age for recruitment into the armed forces to 18 years in order to promote the protection of children through an overall higher legal standard; Reconsider its active policy of recruitment of children into the armed forces and ensure that recruitment practices do not actively target persons under the age of 18 and ensure that military recruiters’ access to school be strictly limited; In recruiting persons under the age of 18, strengthen its safeguards required by article 3 of the Optional Protocol, in order to ensure that the recruitment is genuinely voluntary and based on fully informed consent of the recruit and their parents and legal guardians, and ensure that recruitment does not have a discriminatory impact on children of ethnic minorities and low-income families; Ensure that the minimum period of service applied to children who enlist into the army is no longer than that applied to adult recruits’.
However, we will be submitting an FOI to the Ministry of Defence asking for information on the number of allegations over the past two years of physical, psychological and sexual abuse made by members of the armed forces in Scotland (to include cadet forces) and of those cases, how many pertain to children under the age of 18 at the time the allegation was made. I will be in touch when we have received a response.
Thank you for bringing this matter to the Commissioner’s attention. We would be pleased to receive any information or guidance you may think the Commissioner would find helpful.
Linda Ellis Macdonald
Children & Young People’s Commissioner Scotland”
Celtic League is grateful to the CYPCS for this expeditious reply.
pp Celtic League Military Monitoring.