LTTE ending use of child soldiers - US

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 12 March 2008, 04:22 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) “is eliminating the recruitment and use of child soldiers,” the US State Department said this week in its annual human rights report. The LTTE had not complied with its promise to end the practice by end of 2007, but its policy of recruiting one person from each family targeted those 18 years or older, the report said. Sri Lankan government forces were complicit in conscripting children for the TMVP (Karuna Group), “which used coercion, extortion, rape, and murder to force children and adults to join their ranks,” the report said.

The text of the ‘Child Soldiers’ section of the State Department’s Country Report on Human Rights for Sri Lanka follows:

“Both the LTTE and the Karuna group (also known as TMVP, or Pillaiyan group) used minors in battle. The Karuna group and the LTTE also continued to recruit child soldiers forcibly, while intimidating and using violence against civilians.

“The LTTE instituted a "one family, one fighter" policy, forcing each family to provide at least one member, including children, to the LTTE. By year's end most sources indicated that the "one family, one fighter" policy targeted those 18 years or older. The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) noted a significant reduction in reported child recruitment by the LTTE. While the trend indicated that the LTTE was eliminating the recruitment and use of child soldiers, it had not complied with the promise to end the use of all minors by year's end. UNICEF reported that the LTTE forcibly recruited (or rerecruited) 160 children during the year with an average age of 16 years. At year's end 205 children remained in LTTE custody, including 1,224 who were recruited as children but were over 18 at year's end.

“According to UN sources, there was limited progress during the year in the release of children recruited by both groups. A UNICEF supported action plan sought to rehabilitate former LTTE child soldiers through release and reintegration. Under this program there were to be three UNICEF-supported transit centers. Two of the transit centers, in Batticaloa and Trincomalee, never opened because of a lack of releases by the LTTE. By mid-year the LTTE no longer controlled these areas. UNICEF supported the establishment of a transit center in Kilinochchi for child recruits released by the LTTE, which remained open, but UNICEF noted that its use was limited and declining.

“The Karuna group continued to recruit children, some forcibly after abduction. Karuna cadres used coercion, extortion, rape, and murder to force children and adults to join their ranks. Karuna operatives often bribed parents to allow their children to join the Karuna group, and punished parents or children if they resisted.

‘Unlike the LTTE, UNICEF statistics indicated that child recruitment by the pro-government Karuna group did not decline. The UN Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on Children and Armed Conflict reported and cited evidence that government forces were at times complicit in the recruitment of children. During the year, UNICEF reported that the Karuna group recruited and rerecruited children for use as child soldiers, especially in Batticaloa district for a total of 251. This was more than in 2006, although the rate of recruitment was down from its peak in late 2005. Some previously recruited child soldiers reached 18 years of age while continuing to serve in the Karuna group. UNICEF figures show that at the end of the year, 160 children were still serving in the Karuna forces, and 69 who were recruited as children were now over age 18.”


External Links:
US: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2007: Sri Lanka


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