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Burma: Armed Forces

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 10 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what estimate the UK Government have made of the number of forcibly conscripted child soldiers in the Burma Army; and what reports he has received on the conditions in which they are held; (155672)

(2) what steps he has taken to raise the issue of the forced conscription of child soldiers with the Burmese regime.

We receive regular reports about forced recruitment and the use and ill treatment of child soldiers in Burma. We are unable to estimate the number of forcibly recruited soldiers.

On 2 October, the Human Rights Council (HRC) passed a resolution sponsored by the EU, with the strong support of the UK, which expressed deep concern about the situation in Burma. In our statement to the HRC, we drew attention to the regime's persistent violations of human rights, including the use of child soldiers.

We have repeatedly raised the issue with the Burmese regime. My right hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney), the then Minister for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs, raised our concerns with the Burmese Foreign Minister in Hamburg on 28 May.

Our ambassador in Rangoon takes every opportunity to raise human rights with the regime, most recently when he met the Burmese Deputy Foreign Minister and the Burmese Minister for Labour on 25 September.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict following his visit to Burma. (155674)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has had no discussions with the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms Coomaraswamy, following her visit to Burma. However, Ms Coomaraswamy did meet our ambassador in Rangoon during her visit.