Child recruitment by the Tamil Tiger rebels to re-emerge at next Geneva par ley
Shimali Senanayake in Colombo,
March 12th, 2006, 8:00 am.
The government plans to revisit child recruitment issues in the wake
of the latest accusations of conscription by the Tamil Tigers, senior
government officials said.
The talks on child conscription are also expected to pave the way for
discussions on human rights, the officials said, about the April 19-21
meeting in Geneva.
The rebels still hold as many as 1,358 child soldiers in their
custody, despite repeated pledges to free all underage combatants, the
United Nations children' agency said in a statement.
The UNICEF report same just days after two teenage would-be rebel
fighters who escaped from the guerrillas revealed that the Tigers were
still abducting children from Sri Lanka's north and east.
Speaking to reporters after they sought refuge with the Sri Lanka
navy, the two boys aged 15 and 17 said more than 100 children _ some
as young as 12 _ were receiving weapons training at a camp identified
as "Three Two Base," in northeastern Trincomalee.
UNICEF said the Tigers have recruited at least 5,368 child soldiers
since the Feb 22, 2002 cease-fire, some of whom the Tigers have freed.
Child soldiers was one of the two main topics discussed at the Feb. 22-23 t
The issue _ a major irritant for the rebels _ has ignited strong
criticism against the LTTE globally.
At last months' talks, the Tigers' chief negotiator Anton Balasingham
vowed to halt all child conscription.
"We have given a solemn pledge that we will abstain from recruiting
underage children," he told reporters. But he argued that most of the
children joined the LTTE for socio-economic reasons. Balasingham
however, made a similar pledge after the second round of talks in
Thailand in October, 2003.
Subsequently, there were no plans to revisit the topic _ at least this
soon _ following the Tigers' pledge but that had now changed, the
They stressed that a major drawback of the truce agreement is that
human rights issues like child recruitment have not been woven into
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Published: Sun Mar 12 02:37:04 EST 2006