STF said using child slave labour

[TamilNet, Thursday, 18 February 1999, 19:35 GMT]
(NEWS FEATURE) In a letter sent to the Anti Harassment Committee today, the Forum for Human Dignity has raised the issue of human rights violations committed by the elite commando police unit, the Special Task Force (STF), in the eastern part of the island.

According to the Forum, STF personnel force civilians living near STF camps to report to the camp every week and sign a register, those who fail to do so are punished.

"They compel the civilians, mostly youngsters, to report to their camps, register their names and sign such registers every week. If any of them fail to do so they are liable to the punished", said the letter.

The Forum identified three areas in which this practise occured.

"This is being done by the STF located in the following areas:Kaluwanchikudy, Mandur and Kurumanveli", the letter stated.

Areas close to the three camps in which civilians are affected were also identified by the Forum.

The areas near Mandur are Palamunai, Thampalawattai, Colony 13 and Colony 14.

The areas near the Kaluwanchikudy Camp are Kaluvanchikudy, Kaluthavalai, Eruvil, Onthachchimadam, Koddai Kallar, Periya Kalla and Periyaneelavanai.

The areas near the Kurumanveli camps are Mahiloor, Kodaimedu and Eruvil.

The Anti Harassment Committee was told that having been forced to sign the register civilians were then made to do manual labour in the camp.

"Once they attend the camp, STF personnel allocate manual work that they must do. Manual work varies according to each camp", said the Forum.

"At Mandur STF Camp all males between the ages of 12-50 must report at the camp every Sunday. This includes school going children and Government Servants, while the fishermen of the area must report on Fridays", said the letter.

People who lived near the Kaluwanchikudy camp were also made to sign a register every Sunday and youngsters made to do any work that needed to be done.

"The civilians are given a small exercise book and then allocated separate numbers. If there is any work to be done at the camp or elsewhere, they use the boys. There are about 700 such youngsters who report to this camp every Sunday", said the letter sent to Anti Harassment Committee.

Work that STF personnel use civilians for includes cleaning and cutting wood, the Forum said.

"In all these STF camps people are forced to do various manual work. This includes cutting firewood, cleaning the compound and other odd jobs. At times the STF Personnel take them to the forest and make them cut down trees for firewood" said the Forum's letter.

The Forum also said that some civilians were made to clean toilets.

"At Kaluwanchikudy Police Station, apart from other work, people have been asked to clean the toilets of the police personnel", said the letter.

The Forum For Human Dignity said that STF personnel were treating civilians like criminals with impunity.

"The most disturbing feature is that this inhuman treatment of civilians by the STF and police goes on with impunity....to compel it people have to attend the camps and sign registers like convicted prisoners", the letter said.

The Forum urged the Anti Harassment Committee to take action and conduct an investigation into what was a violation of basic rights.

"These, in our view are serious violations of fundamental rights. We therefore earnestly appeal to you to forthwith conduct an investigation, stop this practice immediately and bring to book those who are responsible for these actions. We trust you will give this your immediate attention and respond", the letter said.


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