The workshop organized under the auspices of the Dallaire Institute, the African Centre of Excellence for Children, Peace and Security, and Rwanda National Police (RNP); was held at the Centre of Excellence on Gender-Based Violence and Child Abuse.
The objective of the workshop was to enhance the participants’ effectiveness in carrying out their duties, with a particular focus on the unique and essential roles they play in protecting and upholding the rights of children, especially those coerced into violence and atrocities as child soldiers.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIGP) in charge of Administration and Personnel, Jeanne Chantal Ujeneza said that the workshop was important to prepare participants to play a critical role in preventing and addressing child rights violations and responding to the needs of survivors.
Reflecting on Rwanda’s experience, DIGP Ujeneza noted that the country has been at the forefront of championing both the Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians and the Vancouver Principles on UN peacekeeping, and the prevention of the recruitment and use of child soldiers in armed violence.
The Kigali Principles on Protection of Civilians comprise a non-binding set of eighteen pledges for the effective and thorough implementation of the protection of civilians in UN peacekeeping.
On the other hand, the Vancouver Principles consist of a set of political commitments in peacekeeping endorsed by member states regarding the prevention of recruitment and use of child soldiers by armed forces and armed groups.
“We are aware of how children and women are the most vulnerable in any situation of conflict. Therefore, as women in uniform and peacekeepers, we need to identify and understand the vulnerabilities of children and young people especially girls, to counteract any push factors that may expose them to any forms of violations such as human trafficking, sexual violence, child labour, child soldiers, indoctrination by terrorist groups and participation in transnational crimes and criminal gangs,” DIGP Ujeneza said.
She further urged female officers to be proactive in responding to calamities affecting children, emphasizing that protecting children is crucial for achieving sustainable peace and security in their countries.
“As conflict and wars persist, these create a window of opportunity for children to participate and become victims of these crimes. We can’t continue to sit and watch this happening. Counteracting this requires a holistic approach but it all starts with each one of us being aware of the issue and aiming to become a change-maker in their society, starting from our families and communities,” added DIGP Ujeneza.