Militant use of children in Sri Lanka
Militant use of children in Sri Lanka has been an internationally recognized problem since the inception of the Sri Lankan civil war in 1983. The primary recruiters of under the age of 18 children are the rebel LTTE movement and the Karuna group (a break-away faction of the LTTE working with Sri Lanka Forces).
Before 2007 the LTTE was accused of recruiting thousands of children into their ranks. The LTTE has been accused of knowingly recruiting and using child soldiers as front-line troops. Amid international pressure, LTTE announced in July 2003 that it would stop conscripting child soldiers, but both UNICEF and HRW have accused it of reneging on its promises, and of conscripting Tamil children orphaned by the tsunami. UNICEF claimed that LTTE recruited at least 40 children orphaned by the tsunami. However, from the start of 2007 LTTE agreed to release all of the recruits under the age of 18.
According to UNICEF, between November 1, 2006 and August 31, 2007, 262 children were recruited by the LTTE; this figure includes 32 children who were rerecruited after being released. This number shows a significant decrease in recruitment as compared to the previous 12-month period, which saw the LTTE recruit 756 children, of whom 97 were rerecruits. The LTTE pleaded that it will release all of the recruits under the age of 18 before the end of the year. Furthermore, on 18 June 2007, the LTTE released 135 children under the age of 18. UNICEF claims that at least 506 child recruit (under the age of 18) still remain under the LTTE. UNICEF further notes that there has been a significant drop in LTTE recruitment of children. Furthermore, a report released by the LTTE's Child Protection Authority (CPA) in 2008 reported that fewer than 40 child soldiers, under the age of 18, still remain in their forces. As of January 2008, the LTTE claims that they have stopped child recruitment.
TMVP Paramilitary Recruitment
More recently, TMVP known as the Karuna Group (A Tamil paramilitary group which supports the Sri Lankan government), has been held responsible for the abduction of children according to UNICEF and Human Rights Watch. Allan Rock, who is a special advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur for Children and Armed Conflict Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy, alleged that government forces had forcibly rounded up young Tamil children to fight with Col Karuna's group. Colonel Karuna, while categorically denying any involvement in abducting children, questioned Rock's impartiality, stating that Allan Rock is a former politician with links to the LTTE who had previously helped the LTTE in Canada. Civilians have also complained that the TMVP is continuing to abduct children, including some in their early teens, for use as soldiers. Allan Rock vowed that he had "credible evidence" for the accusations. The government of Sri Lanka and the Government newspaper Daily News asked Mr. Rock to produce substantive proof that Sri Lankan soldiers collaborated in child soldier recruitment. The new report by the United Nations stated that TMVP still recruits children. The UN further notes that children have been abducted in places like Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Sri Lanka.
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