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Last updated: 07 February, 2010 - Published 17:56 GMT
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Child soldiers 'to be released soon'
Former LTTE child soldiers with relatives (file photo)
UN says 40 percent of those detained are underage children
All detained former Tamil Tiger child soldiers will be released by May, officials in Sri Lanka say.

Head of the Child Protection Authority (CPA) Jagath Wellawatta told BBC Sandeshaya that the government is committed to hand over all former child soldiers to parents and relatives after a one-year rehabilitation programme.

Forty percent of the detained former LTTE cadres are children under the age of 18 years, according to the United Nations.

More than 11,000 LTTE combatants are currently in custody, according to official estimates.

UN report

In a report after a fact finding mission to Sri Lanka, Maj Gen Patrick Cammaert, special envoy of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, has raised concerns about the continuous detention of these children.

The report says that the Paris Principles for which Sri Lanka is a signatory "emphasise the centrality of the family and community in the rehabilitation process".

Paris Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Groups and Armed Forces emphasize the centrality of the family and community in the rehabilitation process.

However, Mr. Wellawatta says that the UNICEF officials took part in initial discussions on the process leading to the release of suspected former child soldiers.

The process of releasing them has already begun, he said, and all former child soldiers should be released by mid this year, as they are to be kept only for a maximum one year period for rehabilitation.

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