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Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Belize

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 20 May 2008
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Belize, 20 May 2008, available at: [accessed 30 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 270,000 (117,000 under 18)
Government Armed Forces: 1,100 (estimate)
Compulsary Recruitment Age: not specified
Voluntary Recruitment Age: 18 (see text)
Voting Age: 18
Optional Protocol: ratified 1 December 2003
Other Treaties: GC AP I, GC AP II, CRC, ILO 138, ILO 182, ICC

There were no reports of under-18s in the armed forces.


National recruitment legislation and practice

The Belize Defence Force consisted of a regular force, a volunteer element and a reserve.1 Belize declared on ratifying the Optional Protocol that 16 was the minimum age for voluntary recruitment to any military service, but the Defence Act (Section 16) provided that no under-18s could be enlisted into the regular force.2 However, the Governor-General could make regulations for the call-up that specified the age and numbers of conscripts (Section 167). In addition, the Defence Regulations did not specify what steps recruiting officers should take in order to satisfy themselves that recruits were 18.3 There was no minimum age for joining the police force, which could be deployed in the service of the armed forces in time of war or emergency.4

Many members of the Police Youth Cadet Corps went on to join not only the police force but also the armed forces.5 Originally established in 1994 to "rehabilitate troubled young men", the corps was part of the community policing program and was aimed at boys and girls aged between 8 and 17. In 2006 it numbered some 800 members.6

1 Defence Act (Chapter 135).

2 Ibid., Section 16(2), cited in Second periodic report of Belize to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/65/Add.29, 13 July 2004 and Committee on the Rights of the child, Consideration of second periodic report submitted by Belize, Concluding observations, UN Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.252, 31 March 2005.

3 Defence Act – Subsidiary Laws, Defence (Regular Force Enlistment and Service) Regulations.

4 Police Act (Chapter 138), Section 5.

5 "Cadet Corps holds camp at Benque", Channel 5,, 13 July 2004.

6 "Police Cadet Corps enjoy sports camp", Channel 5, above note 5, 21 April 2006.

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