Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Malta
|Publisher||Child Soldiers International|
|Publication Date||20 May 2008|
|Cite as||Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Malta, 20 May 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/486cb118c.html [accessed 19 June 2013]|
Population: 402,000 (88,000 under 18)
Government Armed Forces: 1,600
Compulsary Recruitment Age: no conscription
Voluntary Recruitment Age: 17 years and 6 months; under 17 years and 6 months with parental consent
Voting Age: 18
Optional Protocol: ratified 9 May 2002
Other Treaties: GC AP I, GC AP II, CRC, ILO 138, ILO 182, ICC
There was no evidence of under-18s being recruited into the armed forces.
National recruitment legislation and practice
There was no compulsory military service in Malta, and the Malta Armed Forces Act set a minimum age of 17 years and 6 months for voluntary recruitment.1 In its declaration on ratification of the Optional Protocol in May 2002, the government prohibited the enlistment of anyone under the age of 17 years and 6 months, and ruled out the participation in hostilities of anyone under the age of 18. The Declaration also included the provision that "a person under 18 years may not be enlisted unless consent to the enlistment is given in writing by the father of such person or, if such person is not subject to paternal authority, by the mother or by another person in whose care the person offering to enlist may be".2 In its November 2005 Initial Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on implementation of the Optional Protocol, Malta stated that this requirement also applied to persons "under the appropriate minimum age", apparently contradicting the declaration's ban on recruitment of any individual under the age of 17 years and 6 months.3 In response, the Committee expressed its regret that the government had given "no indication of a minimum age under which it would not be possible to recruit children under any circumstance, i.e. even with parental or other legal guardians' consent". The Committee therefore recommended the enactment of a law establishing an absolute minimum age without exception for voluntary recruitment.4
All individuals of any age seeking to enlist were required by law to be fully informed of the general conditions of engagement in the forces, and "the recruiting officer shall not enlist any person in the regular force unless satisfied by that person that he has been given such a notice, understands it and wishes to be enlisted". Those enlisting under the age of 18 had to renew their enlistment on reaching their 18th birthday. In practice, the Maltese armed forces had not recruited anyone under 18 since 1970, which was confirmed in a letter from the government to the Child Soldiers Coalition in January 2008. Although the Armed Forces Act established a Junior Leaders Scheme allowing for recruitment for training of individuals under the age of 17 years and 6 months, no recruitment of this kind had taken place since 1970.5
In September 2006 the Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern at the absence of legislation explicitly criminalizing the recruitment of children under the age of 15 into armed forces or armed groups and their direct participation in hostilities. The Committee also called on the government to establish extraterritorial jurisdiction for such crimes.6
At a February 2007 ministerial meeting in Paris, Malta 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.
1 Initial Report of Malta to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on implementation of the Optional Protocol, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/MLT/1, 10 November 2005.
2 Declaration of Malta on ratification of the Optional Protocol, www2.ohchr.org.
3 Initial Report, above note 1.
4 Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of report submitted by Malta, Concluding observations, UN Doc. CRC/C/OPAC/MLT/CO/1, 17 October 2006.
5 Initial Report, above note 1; letter to the Child Soldiers Coalition from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 28 January 2008.
6 Concluding observations, above note 4.