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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2704

Karuna should be tried like commanders of Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone – Jo Becker, Children’s Division, HRW

New York, 07 November, (Asiantribune.com): Jo Becker, Director of Children Rights Division, Human Rights Watch, is pressing for the prosecution of Col. Karuna to be tried by the United Kingdom in a United Kingdom’s court of law.

She in a clarification added that as an example that other child recruiters, commanders of African countries such from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone are today brought before International Criminal Court. But she added that it is unlikely in the case of Karuna he could be brought before the International Criminal Court, as Sri Lankan government is not party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

She said that however Karuna should be held responsible and Human Rights Watch wants Karuna to be tried by the UK in a UK court of law.

Here is the full text of her press communiqué released to the Asian Tribune:

Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharam, also known as Col. Karuna, has committed very serious crimes in Sri Lanka while eastern commander for the LTTE, and also while operating in cooperation with government security forces as the leader of the Karuna group. He should be held accountable for these crimes. Human Rights Watch strongly urges the UK government to conduct a thorough investigation and pursue prosecution under UK law.

Because Karuna has held command positions in both the LTTE and also in the government-linked Karuna group, we are very concerned that if he is deported back to Sri Lanka, there will be no credible trial. With his links on both sides of the conflict, he could easily negotiate a deal to avoid prosecution.

Karuna's crimes include torture, abduction, and the recruitment and use of child soldiers. During my first trip to Sri Lanka in 2004, I interviewed children in the Batticaloa district who had been recruited as LTTE soldiers by cadres under Karuna's command. Many had been recruited by force, and some at ages as young as eleven or twelve. Such recruitment is considered a war crime under international law.

More recently, after Karuna split from the LTTE, Human Rights Watch documented Karuna's abduction of boys to serve as soldiers in the Karuna group, and the complicity of government security forces in such recruitment.

Commanders from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone who have been responsible for the recruitment and use of child soldiers are being prosecuted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone or the International Criminal Court for their crimes. Karuna should also be held accountable, and prosecuted in a court of law.

Jo Becker,

Advocacy Director

Children's RIghts Division

Human Rights Watch.

- Asian Tribune -

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