MoD defends 'child soldiers' recruitment policy

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The Ministry of Defence today rejected criticism of its policy to recruit soldiers under the age of 18.

The Ministry of Defence today rejected criticism of its policy to recruit soldiers under the age of 18.

An international conference to highlight the use of what it describes as 'child soldiers' is expected to single out Britain along with some Africa states.

The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers meeting, in Berlin, will accuse the MoD of being one of the world's worst offenders and is calling for the minimum age of soldiers taking part in armed conflict to be 18. But a MoD spokeswoman said: 'The UK fully supports any initiative that prevents forced use of children in armed combat.

'Our current recruitment and deployment policies are fully in line with the UN Rights of the Child convention.' She said that while Britain recruits voluntary soldiers from the age of 16, its policy is that they are not to be deployed in a combat area until they are at least 17. 'When you take into account the length of training, it is likely that they would be almost 18 anyway,' she added.

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