Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Poland
|Publisher||Child Soldiers International|
|Publication Date||20 May 2008|
|Cite as||Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Poland, 20 May 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/486cb126ef.html [accessed 24 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This 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: 38.5 million (8.0 million under 18)
Government Armed Forces: 141,500
Compulsary Recruitment Age: 18
Voluntary Recruitment Age: 17
Voting Age: 18
Optional Protocol: ratified 7 April 2005
Other Treaties: GC AP I, GC AP II, CRC, ILO 138, ILO 182, ICC
The minimum age for voluntary recruitment appeared to be 17.
National recruitment legislation and practice
The constitution stated that "It shall be the duty of every Polish citizen to defend the Homeland" and that "Any citizen whose religious convictions or moral principles do not allow him to perform military service may be obliged to perform substitute service" (Article 85). Under the Law on the Universal Obligation to Defend the Republic of Poland of 21 November 1967, "A person who has attained 18 years of age may be called up for military service."1
All men between the ages of 18 and 28 were liable for military service. Students were allowed to replace military service with participation in military training during their studies. Reservists could be required to do service up to the age of 50, but in practice most conscripts were not called up for reservist training in peacetime. To comply with NATO standards, over the last decade the government had reduced the size of the armed forces and increased the number of non-conscript soldiers.2 The length of regular military service was reduced from 18 months to 12 months on 1 January 2004 and again, to ten months, on 1 January 2005. From 1 July 2005 regular military service was nine months, three months for university graduates.3 In January 2006 the Defence Minister said that compulsory conscription would end in six years, and that since 1990 the number of troops had been reduced from 450,000 to 150,000.4
Voluntary recruitment could begin from the age of 17 under the 1970 Law on Regular Military Service.5 Poland's declaration to the Optional Protocol stated that the minimum age for conscription was 18, and 17 for voluntary service in the armed forces, with applicants obliged to provide a birth certificate and obtain parental consent. However, Poland's Initial Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on the Optional Protocol stated that the voluntary recruitment age was 18, even in the case of "mobilization and war".6
Military training and military schools
The military education system comprised one military academy, two civil – military academies, two officer high schools and eight schools for non-commissioned officers (NCOs) following reorganization in 2001 and 2002. There were also six technical training centres for NCOs and junior military specialists.7
At a February 2007 ministerial meeting in Paris, Poland and 58 other states endorsed the Paris Commitments to protect children from unlawful recruitment or use by armed forces or armed groups and the Paris Principles and guidelines on children associated with armed forces or armed groups. The documents reaffirmed international standards and operational principles for protecting and assisting child soldiers and followed a wide-ranging global consultation jointly sponsored by the French government and UNICEF.
Poland ratified the Optional Protocol in April 2005. In its Initial Report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child on the Optional Protocol, the government stated that although the current Penal Code did not explicitly punish the recruitment of children, the Ministry of Justice was drafting an amendment to ban the conscription or recruitment of under-18s into military service.8
1 Second periodic report of Poland to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/70/Add.12, 6 February 2002.
3 Communication from Polish embassy, 19 April 2007.
5 Initial report of Poland to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/8/Add.11, 31 January 1994.
6 Report by Poland on the realization of the Optional Protocol, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/POL/1, 2007.
8 Report on the realization of the Optional Protocol, above note 6.