resources: Armed Forces Bill 2011

June 2011

New legislation (from 22 July 2011) which grants under 18s the right to leave after a 'cooling off' period. Prior to this, discharge of 'unhappy minors' was at the discretion of the commanding officer.

This right is additional to an individual's Discharge As Of Right (DAOR) between the 2nd and 6th month of starting service.

Under 18s in all branches of the forces may now give 3 months' notice to leave (i.e. leave the regular service and join the Reserves) if they give notice in writing to their commanding officer any time before their 18th birthday. By mutual consent the 3 months' notice may be reduced. 

The recruit can change their mind about leaving if they do so within the notice period and they can still give notice later on.

Additionally, the legislation also allows adults the possibility of having their 12 month notice period reduced by up to 6 months as long as it is done within one month of notice being given. This is at the discretion of the commanding officer.

February 2011

The minimum age for enlisting in the UK armed forces is 16.  The UK is the only country in Europe and the only country on the UN Security Council to recruit 16 year olds into its armed forces and is one of fewer than 20 countries in the world which recruit from the age of 16 years.  Those who sign on when 16 or 17 must serve until they are 22. 

The recruitment of minors has been criticised by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Parliament’s own Joint Committee on Human Rights and a number of charities.  The Armed Forces Bill is an opportunity to phase out the recruitment of people under 18, while introducing greater protection for 16- and 17-year-old personnel in the meantime. 

This briefing outlines the issues and makes the following recommendations:

February 2011

ForcesWatch's submission to the Armed Forces Bill committee raising concerns relating to the human rights of service personnel with the Armed Forces Bill Committee and making a number of recommendations to bring the UK into line with current international standards and improve terms of service.

January 2011

Armed Forces Bill postcard

 

 

Order copies of our postcard to the Minister for the Armed Forces asking him to use the Armed Forces Bill to address human rights in the
armed forces.

January 2011

The armed forces recognise the right of serving personnel to be discharged if they develop a conscientious objection.  But this right is not set out clearly in legislation, is not mentioned in the terms of service and many, perhaps most, forces personnel are unaware of it.  The system for registering a conscientious objection is opaque and little information about it is easily available.  

A briefing outlining the issues and recommendations of how to make registering a conscientious objection accessible to armed forces personnel.

January 2011

Employment in the armed forces is unique in placing severe restrictions on rights and freedoms that are available to the rest of the UK population.  The armed forces are also the only employers in the UK who legally require their employees to commit themselves for several years, with the risk of a criminal conviction if they try to leave sooner.

This situation is all the more worrying given that the majority of recruits are very young.  There is also evidence that many personnel are unclear about the length of their commitment and their rights to leave and that the information they receive can be misleading.

This briefing outlines the issues and makes recommendations for improving the terms and conditions of service in the armed forces.

Child Soldiers International is campaigning to stop the recruitment of under 18s into the British armed forces.They have published 'Catch 16-22: Recruitment and retention of minors in the British Armed Forces (2011) and Mind the Gap: Education for minors in the British armed forces (2012).