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Sri Lanka's Child Soldiers


Allan Rock is an adviser to the United Nations on the issue of children and armed conflict. He recently completed a ten day visit to Sri Lanka. According to Mr. Rock, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a terrorist organization, "has not complied with its commitments. . . .to stop child recruitment and release all the children within their ranks."

Mr. Rock said the U-N "also found that the so-called Karuna faction continues to abduct children in government-controlled areas of the east, particularly [in the] Batticaloa district." Karuna is a breakaway faction of the Tamil Tigers suspected of links to Sri Lankan security forces. Mr. Rock said the U-N "found strong and credible evidence that certain elements of the government security forces are supporting and sometimes participating in the abduction and forced recruitment of children by the Karuna faction."

More than sixty-thousand people, including many children, have been killed since the Tamil Tiger insurgency began in 1983. In its latest human rights report, the U.S. State Department says the Tamil Tigers have "used and recruited children, sometimes forcibly, for use in battlefield support functions and in combat." During 2005, there were reportedly more than five-hundred cases of forcible child recruitment by the Tamil Tigers and more than one-thousand three-hundred children were being held by the insurgents.

The use of children as soldiers, torture, abduction, and other human rights abuses continue in Sri Lanka. The U.S. is urging both the government of Sri Lanka and Tamil Tigers to end hostilities immediately and return to negotiations to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.

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