From 26-30 April, independent experts of the Committee on the Rights of the Child conducted a country visit to Colombia to present the CRC’s observations and recommendations on the combined fourth and fifth State Party reports submitted by the Government of Colombia. The visit was organized and facilitated by a group of child rights organizations, including Watchlist’s partner COALICO.

During the visit, the experts reinforced the Committee’s concerns about the recruitment of children by the criminal groups formed as a result of the demobilization of the paramilitary groups (BACRIM). The Committee urged the government of Colombia to ensure that children associated with the BACRIM are offered equal treatment as victims of the conflict, including full access to reintegration programs. The experts also stressed the importance of including issues related to the protection of children in the current peace negotiation with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) in Havana.

The dialogue with the Government was an opportunity to discuss how the observations could best be integrated into national policies. In particular, the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare expressed its commitment to design an action plan to facilitate the implementation of the recommendations as part of their ongoing efforts to ensure greater protection for children.

The Committee does not have a formal follow-up procedure by which the implementation of the observations and recommendations is periodically assessed. However, NGO engagement through partners such as COALICO in the follow-up process offers the Committee additional opportunities to increase the impact of its work on the implementation of the international treaty on the protection of children.