Mr. Speaker, I rise today in recognition that tomorrow, February 12, is International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers or Red Hand Day. This day serves to commemorate those children who have been coerced into the conflict of war, and it is a global peace initiative.
On February 12, 2002, the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict came into force as an addition to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. By failing to recognize the horrific plight of child soldiers, such as in the case of Omar Khadr, the government has failed to live up to Canada's international obligations.
Liberal Senator Roméo Dallaire has worked tirelessly to stop the abuse of children as soldiers. He says that Khadr's situation is, “--dead against the [Geneva] Conventions we have agreed to.... We’ve been tested with one of our own, and we have failed flagrantly--”.
The government should listen to the message of this day, it should hear the cries of children used by adults in war, and should lead the world in protecting the young. Even one child soldier is too many.