UN: Karuna denies child recruitment, commits to collaborate with UNICEF

[TamilNet, Thursday, 07 December 2006, 17:45 GMT]
Vinyagamoorthy Muralitharan (Karuna), who leads the paramilitary Karuna Group operated by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA), has contacted the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, on Monday, regarding the listing of his group to the UN Security Council, according to a press release issued by the UN office in Colombo. The move, comes following a report by Allan Rock, the Special Advisor to the UN Special Representative, who accused the Sri Lankan military for recruiting children to the ranks of the paramilitary group, in November when he concluded a 10-day mission to Sri Lanka. Tamil Tigers in October outlawed the recruitment of under-17s.

Allan Rock's report issued on 13 November, accusing sections of the Sri Lankan armed forces for recruiting chilren on behalf of the paramilitary Karuna Group, had caused reactions from the Sri Lankan Government establishment.

Mr. Muralitharan, on Monday, has confirmed that he would take the following actions which will be formalized in an action plan negotiated between Karuna’s group (TMVP) and UNICEF, according to the UN office in Colombo:

  1. Re-issuing a policy statement to inform all the commanders of the Karuna faction in the field that using and recruiting children is not an acceptable practice.

  2. Training all commanders in the field on child’s rights with all necessary assistance from the International Community.

  3. Releasing children who may be found among Karuna ranks to their families, in collaboration with relevant NGOs and/or UNICEF

  4. Giving free access to the Karuna camps for UNICEF monitors to ensure that no children remain associated with the armed group.


UN's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy of Sri Lanka, describing the paramilitary group's move as a "major step," said she hoped to receive a commitment from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) granting UNICEF monitors access for independent verification to their camps in the near future.

Recently, in October 2006, the Tigers outlawed the recruitment of under-17s for military service.

The Tamileelam judiciary, enacted Child Protection Act 2006 (Act No. 03 of 2006), making participation of under 18-year olds in armed combat illegal, and proscribing all forms of child labour.

The LTTE has said the new legislation would be in full implemenation by January 2007.

Some excerpts from the report of Allan Rock, follow:

"The mission's initial findings reveal that the LTTE has not complied with its commitments under the Action Plan to stop child recruitment and release all the children within their ranks."

"The mission also discovered a disturbing development involving the Karuna abductions. It found strong and credible evidence that certain elements of the government security forces are supporting and sometimes participating in the abductions and forced recruitment of children by the Karuna faction."

"The mission met with the parents of many of the abducted children in Batticaloa district. As a result, it learned of eye-witness evidence that links the Karuna faction abductions to certain government elements. Based on the evidence as a whole, the mission concluded that some government security forces are actively participating in these criminal acts."


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