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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2956

Sri Lanka: Parties to the conflict must stop recruitment of children

London, 04 October, ( : Coalition to Stop Use of Child Soldiers supports calls for UN human rights monitoring mission – urges investigations of child recruitment.

Children, mostly aged 14 to 18, continue to be recruited as soldiers in violation of international human rights and international humanitarian law.

The Coalition today deplored continuing forced recruitment by the Karuna group, which broke away from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in March 2004. UNICEF condemned child recruitment by the group in June and said it had documented 30 cases; by August the total had reached 118 although the actual figure is believed to be higher.

Recent information indicates that recruitment by the Karuna group increased in late August and September as military operations have intensified. Those recruited include male youth as young as 15. They are frequently forced into white vans without number plates, often in the vicinity of government forces. The recruits are then taken to Karuna camps (often close to army camps), after passing through military checkpoints. Police appear to have taken little if any action on cases reported to them.

"The fact that forcible recruitment has occurred in the vicinity of government forces, and that the police have taken little or no action, suggests at least acquiescence by government forces" said the Coalition’s director, Victoria Forbes Adam. "The government must act immediately to stop all recruitment of under-18s by the Karuna group."

The Coalition also condemned ongoing child recruitment by the LTTE. Recruitment appeared to have decreased from mid-2005 and this was a positive development. However, at least 50 cases a month have been reported during the first six months of 2006 and recent information suggests child recruitment may be occurring in LTTE-controlled areas in the north. Fear of reprisals is thought to prevent many families from protesting about child recruitment by the LTTE.

The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers joins the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in urging the government and the LTTE to agree to a human rights monitoring mission, under UN auspices. The mission should include a child protection section with a mandate to actively investigate and report on cases of child recruitment by all parties to the conflict.

- Asian Tribune -

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