Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: UN security council directs Tamil Tigers, Karuna to end use of child soldiers

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(New York, May 11, 2007) - The chairman of the UN Security Council's working group on children and armed conflict today issued two statements regarding the recruitment and use of child soldiers by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Karuna group in Sri Lanka. The statements strongly condemn the continued abduction, recruitment and use of child soldiers, and urge both armed groups to immediately release all children from their forces.

The statement directed to the LTTE further states that if the LTTE does not abide by its commitments to end the use of child soldiers, "further steps may be taken." Such steps may involve Security Council sanctions against the LTTE, which has been named in several reports to the Security Council for recruiting and using child soldiers in violation of international law.

"Human Rights Watch welcomes the UN Security Council's strong condemnation of the recruitment and use of child soldiers by both the Tamil Tigers and the Karuna group," said Jo Becker, child rights' advocate for Human Rights Watch. "Both groups have now been put on notice to immediately implement the Security Council's call to stop all child recruitment, and release the children in their forces. The Security Council will want to see results."

The statements were issued by Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sablière, the French permanent representative to the United Nations, on behalf of the working group, based on a December report from the UN secretary-general regarding grave abuses against children in Sri Lanka's armed conflict.

The full texts of the statements follow below, and can also be found on the French mission's website (see: http://www.franceonu.org/sommaire.php3?id_rubrique=2).

Statement by the Chairman of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict

11 May 2007

At the 8th meeting of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, held on 10 May 2007, in connection with the consideration of the Report of the Secretary General on children and armed conflict in Sri Lanka (S/2006/1006), the Chairman of the Security council Working Group on Children and Armed conflict made the following statement on behalf of the Working Group:

"The Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict,

Calls the attention of the leadership of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on the fact that on 20 December 2006, the Security Council has received a report by the Secretary General on children and armed conflict in Sri Lanka (S/2006/1006), describing inter alia a continuous, ongoing and even increasing pattern of abduction, recruitment and use of children by the LTTE, in spite of previous commitments contained in the Action Plan for children affected by war in March 2003, Strongly condemns the continuous recruitment and use of child soldiers and all other violations and abuses committed against children by the LTTE, Urges the leadership of LTTE:

1. To immediately end the practice of abduction, recruitment and use of children under the age of 18 and to separate them from their ranks, in conformity with its obligations under the Action Plan of March 2003;

2. To immediately engage in transparent procedures with UNICEF for release and verification of demobilization of all children;

3. To immediately cease the transfer of demobilized children to the Educational Skills Development Centre and instead release them directly to their families as stipulated in the Action Plan;

4. To cooperate with UNICEF by sharing information and providing UNICEF representatives with unimpeded access to LTTE military camps with a view to putting an end to violations and abuses perpetrated against children;

5. To recognize and commit to maintaining the neutrality and security of schools, hospitals and religious institutions as "safe zones" in conflict-affected areas;

6. To provide humanitarian actors, with immediate effect, with unimpeded and safe access to all areas under its control;

Emphasizes that:

If in the coming months, reporting by the Secretary General on the follow-up given by LTTE to this message indicates significant progress, the Working Group will look for continued progress in the framework of the next regular report on the situation for children and armed conflict in Sri Lanka, If however, in the coming months, LTTE does not respond positively to this message, or does not carry out its commitments or abide by its obligations in accordance with applicable international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, including SCR 1612 (2005), further steps may be taken."

Statement by the Chairman of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict

11 May 2007

At the 8th meeting of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, held on 10 May 2007, in connection with the consideration of the Report of the Secretary General on children and armed conflict in Sri Lanka (S/2006/1006), the Chairman of the Security council Working Group on Children and Armed conflict made the following statement on behalf of the Working Group:

"The Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict,

Strongly condemns the recent recruitment and use of child soldiers and all other violations and abuses committed against children by the Karuna faction, And urges the leadership of the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pullighal (TMVP), and its military wing, the Karuna faction:

1. To immediately end the practice of abductions, use and recruitment of children under the age of 18, consistent with the commitment they made to the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict and to her Special Advisor;

2. To engage with UNICEF, as a matter of priority, to release all children among their ranks, ensure a transparent verification process, including access to Karuna faction military camps, and devise procedures for age verification with UNICEF and to prevent further unlawful recruitment;

3. To recognize and commit to maintaining the neutrality and security of schools, hospitals and religious institutions as "safe zones" in conflict-affected areas;

4. To provide humanitarian actors, with immediate effect, with unimpeded and safe access to all areas under its control."

To read the Human Rights Watch report, "Complicit in Crime: State Collusion in Abductions and Child Recruitment by the Karuna Group," please visit: http://hrw.org/reports/2007/srilanka0107/

For more information, please contact: In New York, Jo Becker: +1-914-263-9643 (mobile)

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