Tiger travel ban welcomed
A London-based lobby group has welcomed the travel ban imposed upon Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers by the European Union.
Welcoming the ban, The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers has urged the LTTE to halt all recruitment of under-18s and demobilize all children in its ranks.
In a statement issued on Monday , the Coalition recalls that the EU has emphasized its concern at the continuing recruitment and retention of children by the LTTE while banning LTTE delegations from EU in a decision made in the wake of the killing of Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar.
Casey Kelso, the Coalition’s internationals director has said that LTTE’s continuous promises not to recruit children are ‘belied’ by evidence.
He said: “LTTE denials are belied by consistent evidence of abductions of children for military training.”
The coalition says many organizations, including UNICEF and Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), have documented both forced and voluntary recruitment of children for military purposes in 2005.
“A lull in recruitment following the December 2004 tsunami was noted by the Coalition as an encouraging development. This trend reversed as detailed information on numerous cases of recruitment during temple festivals was received by the Coalition in June. UNICEF reported a sharp increase in the numbers of children recruited in July.”
Against international norms
Children abducted by the LTTE are frequently forced into vehicles and taken to military camps where they are not allowed to contact their families for many months, the Coalition added.
“Families and children themselves have described how distressing this experience is. Many, however, are afraid to speak out against the practice. “
The Coalition stresses that the recruitment of any child under the age of 18 for military purposes – whether enforced or voluntary – is contrary to international human rights norms.
“The recruitment of children under the age of 15 is defined as a war crime by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”