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Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Ecuador

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 20 May 2008
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Ecuador, 20 May 2008, available at: [accessed 30 November 2015]
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: 13.2 million (5.1 million under 18)
Government Armed Forces: 56,500
Compulsary Recruitment Age: 18
Voluntary Recruitment Age: 17
Voting Age: 18
Optional Protocol: ratified 7 June 2004
Other Treaties: GC AP I, GC AP II, CRC, ILO 138, ILO 182, ICC

The minimum age for voluntary recruitment was 17. Very few Colombian former child soldiers benefited from assistance in Ecuador.


The Colombian armed conflict continued to affect Ecuador profoundly, with a marked increase in incursions by Colombian armed groups, thousands of asylum seekers, and smuggling and violence in border areas, as well as health concerns related to coca-eradication by means of spraying with glyphosate.1 Ecuador maintained a position of non-interference in the armed conflict in Colombia.2

Between 2000 and 2006, 700 killings were reported in Sucumbíos province, near the border with Colombia, as a result of the increased militarization of the area. None had been investigated by the authorities.3 The victims included civilian men, women and children.4

There were approximately 250,000 Colombian asylum seekers in Ecuador. In 2006 between 600 and 700 Colombians requested asylum each month.5


National recruitment legislation and practice

According to the Law on Military Service, military age started at 18, when males had to fulfil their duties as determined by law, while women could be called up if required by national defence needs.6 Married men, household heads, members of religious orders, the disabled, prisoners, military and police cadets, students at military schools and Ecuadoreans abroad were exempted from military service.7

At the age of 17 all males were required to register with the military authorities and then selected to serve through a lottery system. On turning 18 they were enlisted into active service in three batches, in February, May and August.8 Military service lasted for nine months but could also be performed for shorter and more intensive periods.9 In 2007 nearly 5,000 18-year-olds were due to join active service.10 Recruits received uniforms, meals and a monthly stipend, as well as literacy, vocational and academic instruction. 11

Those who had not been selected to join active service were at the age of 19 included in the Civil Defence Auxiliary Units (Unidades Auxiliares de la Defensa Civil) at their places of residence for a fixed time determined by law.12

Every male aged 18-55 had to have his military passbook (libreta militar) to work, study or travel abroad or to obtain his university degree or driver's licence. Ecuadorean males wishing to travel abroad paid a "military compensation": those who did not do military service paid US$32, exempted men $20 and former conscripts $5.13

All male and female nationals and residents aged 18-60 and regardless of their family circumstances were required to participate in national mobilization in case of necessity. National mobilization included military, civilian and economic mobilization.14

In June 2007, following a prolonged campaign by human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Constitutional Court declared Articles 88 and 108 of the Compulsory Military Service Law to be unconstitutional. Article 88 established penalties for those not fulfilling military service obligations, including being unable to register for university, run for public office and travel abroad, while Article 108 provided that objectors had to do alternative service inside military units.15

Volunteers for the navy had to be at least 17 and to have completed secondary education.16

The Resistance Forces (Fuerzas de Resistencia) were made up of civilians organized, trained and equipped by the army as a reserve force, to support military activities in civil defence, first aid and environmental protection. At the end of 2006 the Resistance Forces had 1,600 members.17

The National Police was an auxiliary force, assisting in the maintenance of internal security and defence.18

Military training and military schools

Individuals wishing to become professional soldiers underwent a practical and technical course, including jungle training, and were then given a three-year contract.19

Students at the Army Polytechnic Superior School and the Naval University obtained nationally recognized tertiary-level degrees on graduating. Human rights courses were incorporated throughout the military educational system.20

The air force had five primary and secondary-schools (Ecuadorian Air Force Experimental Educational Units, Unidades Educativas Experimentales de la Fuerza Aérea Ecuatoriana, UEFAE) throughout Ecuador accepting children from grade 1 (typically age six).21

Secondary school students in the fifth year (usually age 16) were required to participate in community service programs organized by the Ministry of Education, such as teaching literacy and undertaking cultural promotion and civil defence activities.22 As part of this program, students could volunteer to attend military instruction every Saturday morning from November to June as members of the Voluntary Military Student Instruction and Community Support Program (Instrucción Militar Estudiantil Voluntaria y Apoyo a la Comunidad).23

Armed Groups:

During 2005 and 2006 Colombian military forces and armed groups reportedly entered Ecuador's border areas.24 In April 2007 eight men and one woman, presumed members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC), were detained in Cuembí and Sansahuari, Sucumbíos province, Ecuador, by members of the Ecuadorean armed forces.25

Although Ecuador had no official records of Colombian children and young people formerly involved in the armed conflict in Colombia, most organizations working with children and adolescents believed that there could be dozens of Colombian former child combatants in Ecuador and hundreds more who had crossed the border when faced with the threat of recruitment.26

Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR):

Between 2004 and 2006 around 7,500 people requested asylum each year.27 It was estimated that 27 per cent of asylum seekers were under 18.28 Although the 2002 Children's and Youth Code had a stated policy of protection of children in the event of disaster or armed conflict,29 there were no special protection policies for refugee children.30 Data was scarce and incomplete and the government did not keep its own statistics.31

Only a very few demobilized Colombian children were known to have benefited from reception programs in Ecuador. Most young Colombians did not admit to being combatants because of the stigma attached to it, as well as fear of being denied asylum.32


In September 2005, on considering Ecuador's consolidated second and third report, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child reiterated its concern over the high number of victims of violence and displacement, and the health and environmental effects of spraying of illegal crops.33

International standards

Ecuador ratified the Optional Protocol on 7 June 2004. Its declaration stated that under the constitution military service was compulsory, commencing at 18 years of age, with provision for alternative service for conscientious objectors.34

1 Ministerio de Defensa Nacional, Directiva de Defensa Nacional, 2 September 2005,

2 "'Ecuador no se entrometerá en conflicto armado de Colombia', reitera su Ministra de Defensa", El Tiempo (Colombia), 14 March 2007,

3 Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL), "CEJIL y organizaciones ecuatorianas denuncian ante la CIDH la violencia e impunidad en la frontera de Ecuador y Colombia", 25 October 2006,

4 Amnesty International Report 2007.

5 Noticias ACNUR, "Misión del Alto Comisionado a Ecuador y Colombia", 9 March 2007,

6 Communication to Child Soldiers Coalition from Ecuadorean embassy, London, 10 May 2007.

7 "Se acuartelarán la próxima semana", La Hora, 12 February 2007,

8 Ministerio de Defensa Nacional, Resumen de Noticias, 25 March 2007.

9 Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO), Programa Seguridad y Ciudadanía, Reporte del Sector Seguridad en América Latina y el Caribe, Informe Nacional: Ecuador, August 2006,

10 Resumen de Noticias, above note 8.

11 "Se acuartelarán la próxima semana", above note 7.

12 Ley de Seguridad Nacional, at (Información institucional, Seguridad nacional).

13 Ministerio de Defensa Nacional, "Obtener la libreta militar", 17 April 2007.

14 Ley de Seguridad Nacional.

15 Serpaj (Servicio Paz y Justicia) Ecuador, "Pasemos la voz: ni un joven más al servicio militar", 2 July 2007,; Ley de Servicio Militar Obligatorio en las Fuerzas Armadas Nacionales, Articles 88 and 108.

16 Armada de la República del Ecuador, Ingreso a la Armada, Tripulantes,

17 Ministerio de Defensa Nacional, "Fuerzas de resistencia conmemoran aniversario", 22 January 2007.

18 Ley Orgánica de las Fuerzas Armadas, Ley No. 109. RA/1990, at

19 FLACSO, Informe Nacional, above note 9.

20 Ministerio de Defensa Nacional, Libro Blanco de la Defensa, Capitulo V, Sistema de la Defensa Nacional, "Educación".

21 Fuerza Aérea Ecuatoriana, Apoyo al Desarrollo, Educación,

22 Ministerio de Educación, "En vigencia reglamento sustitutivo de participación estudiantil", 21 July 2006,

23 Colegio Mixto Isaac Newton,

24 Amnesty International Report 2006 and 2007.

25 Ministerio de Defensa Nacional, "Militares ecuatorianos capturaron a ocho presuntos miembros de las FARC en la frontera norte", Boletín No. 26, 25 April 2007.

26 Coalition interview with Simone Schwartz, UNHCR Ecuador, 10 January 2006.

27 Ministerio de Defensa, Plan Ecuador.

28 Cladem Ecuador, Alternative report to the Convention on Children's Rights, Period: 1996-2002, November 2004,

29 Consolidated second and third periodic reports of Ecuador to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/65/Add.28, 15 July 2004.

30 Foro Ecuatoriano permanente de organizaciones por y con los Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes, El Cumplimiento de la Convención sobre los derechos del niño en el Ecuador: 15 años después, 16 May 2005,

31 Respuestas escritas del Gobierno del Ecuador al Comité de los Derechos del Niño, UN Doc. CRC/C/RESP/86, 2 May 2005.

32 Coalition interview with social worker from Tulcán (Ecuador), 25 February 2005.

33 Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of combined second and third reports submitted by Ecuador, Concluding observations, UN Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.262, 13 September 2005.

34 Declaration on accession to the Optional Protocol,

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