The Human Rights Commission has called on the British government to take immediate action to stop paramilitary assaults on children in Northern Ireland.

Twelve young people were shot between 2009 and last year, while another 27 were assaulted, the organisation said.

It has submitted a report to the influential UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Figures for the number of attacks may be under-reported since fear of paramilitary violence and self-reported experiences of attacks on children are much higher, the commission said.

Research published late last year from Queen's University Belfast said more than 500 children were shot or beaten by loyalist and republican paramilitaries over the past two decades.

The commission highlighted 2008 UN recommendations that have not yet been implemented and required urgent action.

These include raising the age of criminal responsibility, ending corporal punishment and reducing the use of remand for children in the criminal justice system.

The report said: "The committee may wish to condemn the ongoing attacks carried out by paramilitary organisations and ask the state party to take immediate and effective action to address the issue of paramilitary style attacks on children in Northern Ireland through measures relating to both transitional justice and child protection."

The commission advises the UN committee should ask the British government, including the Northern Ireland Executive, to ban smacking of children without delay.

It is also urging immediate action to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility from ten to at least 12.