Working to Rehabilitate
Child Soldiers in the DRC
Read our 2007 Annual Report (in French) for Monitoring & Reporting here.
In April 2005, Ajedi-Ka and the Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict
(CAC) began work on a pilot project using cellular phones and internet
technology to facilitate existing Village Committees for Child Protection
(VCCP) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to monitor and report
on child rights violations. The programme aimed to empower local
organisations and community members to use the technology in the context of
armed conflict, and make monitoring and reporting more efficient.
Through the project, Ajedi-Ka distributed 15 cell phones, one to each VCCP
and two phones to Ajedi-Ka staff in Uvira. These cellular phones were used
to relay information on child rights violations from the VCCPs to Ajedi-Ka
staff. A 24-hour telephone call-in service was established to enable VCCP
members to place a call at any time to report a violation as soon as possible
after it occurred.
Once the violation has been logged in Uvira, Ajedi-Ka staff returned the
phone call to the VCCP member – at no cost to the VCCP cellular user.
According to the organisers, this minimised expense at the grassroots level.
Once the information was relayed, it was stored and decisions were made
about whether further verification was needed in order to document the case.
According to the organisers, the cellular technology allowed the VCCPs to
quickly report violations and make decisions about verification while avoiding
dangerous and cumbersome bicycle travel, which they had previously relied
The monitoring activities were carried out by VCCP teams in 15 rural villages
around Uvira, where children are at high risk. Each VCCP is composed of 5
members, generally including: a teacher, a member of the local administration,
an elder in the community, a member of the local church, and a business
leader (usually a farmer or a businessman). Some VCCPs also include former
child soldiers. As leading members of the local communities, VCCP members
were advised by local villagers when violations occured. Immediately upon
alert of an alleged violation, VCCP members used cellular phones to alert
Ajedi-Ka staff in Uvira of the violation and to discuss verification activities.
The programme included the development of a software system to record
violations reported by the VCCPs in a manner that protected the victims’
identity. Watchlist staff, with guidance from Ajedi-Ka staff, explored various
possibilities with software developers for creating a secure system that was
suitable for the DRC context - where most local level computer use is done at
internet cafes, rather than on personally owned computers. VCCP members
used site visits, interviews and other methods to verify violations immediately
after they occur.
The programme also included training of local grassroots organisations and
community members in child protection policies and instruments as well as
how to use cellular technology to carry out monitoring and reporting.
Finally, Ajedi-Ka shared detailed information about each of the fully verified
cases with Watchlist headquarters in New York often within days of the
violation. In New York, Watchlist safely maintains a small database with the
detailed information about each of the verified cases. This information is
easily available for Watchlist to inform international policy-makers, especially
the United Nations Security Council, about on-going violations against
children in the context of armed conflict in eastern DRC.
Ajedi-Ka has established VCCPs in 15 of Uvira’s 22 villages. These villages
were selected as particularly high-risk areas for young people. According to
the organsiers, “As a result of this project, 22 new cases of violations against
children were reported to Ajedi-Ka and 15 were fully verified from May to
November 2005. In addition, Ajedi-Ka was able to quickly refer each of the
verified cases to the appropriate local authorities and to provide practical
recommendations for timely responses that should be taken to remedy the
According to the organisers, the Watchlist/Ajedi-Ka pilot project succeeded in
its goals of facilitating documentation of violations, diminishing reporting time
and facilitating the flow of information to the international level. However,
some challenges did arise. These challenges included difficulty charging the
cell phones due to lack of electricity in the villages, restrictive calling time
available for cell phone use due to limited budget and inconsistent internet
access in Uvira to transfer information to New York. In addition, Ajedi-Ka
was unable to track any developments which may have resulted from
reporting the cases to local authorities after initial outreach due to limited
Watchlist and Ajedi-Ka have now developed the framework for a follow up
project which seeks to build on the successes achieved in 2005 and to address
the challenges posed by the pilot project.
See How it Works
To better understand how this works, please click here to see actual reports
of crimes against children, that have been filed recently (in French). All names
have been removed for security reasons.
To view our standard form for the following up of reported child rights
violations, please click here.
To view our standard form for the following up of incidents of violence
including child soldiers, please click here.
For an English description of the pilot titled Using Cellular Technology to
Monitor Rights Violations and Improve Child Protection in Eastern
DRC please click here.
For the French description of the work of the Villages Committee for Child
Protection (CVPE), please click here.
Monitoring and Reporting of Child Rights Violations