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Child Soldiers Global Report 2004 - Mozambique

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2004 - Mozambique, 2004, available at: [accessed 25 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.

Republic of Mozambique

Covers the period from April 2001 to March 2004.

Population: 18.5 million (9.4 million under 18)
Government armed forces: 8,200
Compulsory recruitment age: 18
Voluntary recruitment age: 18
Voting age: 18
Optional Protocol: not signed
Other treaties ratified (see glossary): CRC, GC AP I and II, ILO 138, ILO 182; ACRWC

There were no reports of under-18s serving in the armed forces. The minimum age for voluntary and compulsory recruitment was 18 but could be lowered in times of war. Girls and women were often excluded from the reintegration process for child soldiers recruited during the pre-1992 war.


The impact of flooding in 2000 and 2001, which affected a large proportion of the population and caused major structural damage, was still felt. Severe drought in 2002 exacerbated existing food insecurity. It was estimated that 13 per cent of the adult population was HIV positive.1


National recruitment legislation and practice

Under the law on military service the duty to do military service starts at the age of 18, when citizens must register under the military census (Article 2). Eighteen is also the minimum age for special recruitment, a category that includes voluntary military service. Actual incorporation in the armed forces takes place in the year the recruit is 20.

Mozambique stated in its submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2001 that "the law currently in force in Mozambique ... clearly prohibits the involvement of individuals under 18 years of age in military acts." However, age limits may be altered in time of war (Article 2 of the law on military service), and the government acknowledged that this had sparked debate about the involvement of children in military activities. Among reasons for continuing low levels of birth registration, it pointed to the fear of families that registration facilitated the recruitment of children into the army. During the pre-1992 war, under-18s had been conscripted, but were prohibited from taking part in military action. Although the number of children directly involved in fighting was unknown, government data indicated that about 28 per cent of the 25,000 soldiers demobilized after the 1992 peace agreement – most from government armed forces – had been under 18 when they were recruited.2

There was no evidence of underage recruitment and exemptions from military service were granted to young people who were heads of households or who were family breadwinners. There were no legal mechanisms to make young people register for military service and sanctions were provided only for those who registered but subsequently failed to respond to the call up.3

In 2003, with the help of the Community Development Foundation, Save the Children United Kingdom, Save the Children Norway and UNICEF, the government began a legal review of children's rights. The Ministry of Women and Social Action also worked with UNICEF and other agencies to develop a plan to increase birth registration,4 although implementation was very slow.5

Mozambique has yet to sign the Optional Protocol, although it supported a "straight-18" ban on all forms of military recruitment during the negotiations on its adoption.

Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR)

On the reintegration of former child soldiers, the government told the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2001 that western type psychological treatment "did not fit the traditional African perspective on the interpretation of trauma, and thus caused the rejection of families or the stigmatization of children assisted by these programmes", while treatment by traditional healers promoted reintegration.6 In 2004 a study of former child soldiers in Mozambique was reported to have found that they were "as much integrated as the rest of the population and did not seem to have any problem specific to the group. They felt respected by their families and communities and many belonged to either a religious or community group. Most children had never seen a psychologist or a social worker".7

However, there were indications that former girl soldiers were often left out of the integration process. Girls and young women who were exploited as slave labour or abducted into sexual slavery in both government and rebel fighting forces had often been excluded from programs for reintegration of former soldiers. In some instances, such programs allowed the continuation of human rights violations, such as leaving them captive to men who had abducted them during the war.8 A peace organization set up by former combatants, PROPAZ, reported that the veterans' association did not address issues relevant to women fighters and that independent associations for them were needed.9

1 World Bank, Country brief: Mozambique,

2 Initial report of Mozambique to UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/41/Add.11, 14 May 2001,

3 Communication from Children in Armed Conflict Project (InterAct), Institute for Security Studies, 8 April 2004,

4 US Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2003, February 2004,

5 Confidential communication from Child Soldiers Coalition member NGO in Mozambique, 1 June 2004.

6 Initial report of Mozambique to UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, op. cit.

7 Communication from Children in Armed Conflict Project (InterAct), op. cit.

8 Susan McKay and Dyan Mazurana, Where are the Girls?, Rights and Democracy, International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, 2004,

9 Communication from Children in Armed Conflict Project (InterAct), op. cit.

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