Children and Armed Conflict in Sri Lanka: United Nations Secretary-General Report


New York, NY 01 February, (Asiantribune.com): The United Nations Secretary-General office here in New York released its comprehensive study, research and analyses of children in armed conflict. Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict gave an outline of the Annual Report to the international and local media at UN headquarters on January 30


(31.01.2008)

Fri, 2008-02-01 15:35
Daya Gamage ' US Bureau Asian Tribune
.
Asian Tribune exclusively carries the Sri Lanka section of the UN Secretary-General's report on the situation of child recruitment for the period October 2006 through August 2007.
The report is submitted pursuant to Security Council presidential statement by which the Council requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on the further progress in the implementation of resolutions 1612 (2005), 1379 (2001), 1460 (2003) and 1539 (2004).
In accordance with the Council's request, the report includes information on compliance in ending the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict in violation of applicable international law and other grave violations being committed against children affected by armed conflict.
The report also includes information on progress made in the implementation of the monitoring and reporting mechanism; information on progress made in the development and implementation of action plans and information on the mainstreaming of child protection in United Nations peacekeeping operations.
Pursuant to Security Council resolutions 1379 (2001), 1460 (2003), 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005), the report covers compliance in ending the recruitment and use of children and other grave violations, including the killing and maiming of children, rape and other sexual violence, abductions, denial of humanitarian access to children and attacks against schools and hospitals by parties to armed conflict.
Here is the Sri Lanka section of United Nations Secretary-General's report to the Security Council. The Council is scheduled to go through the report on 12 February.
Developments in Sri Lanka
From 1 October 2006 to 31 August 2007, UNICEF received confirmed reports of 339 children being recruited or re-recruited by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), of which 41 per cent were from Batticaloa, compared with 679 children recruited in the preceding 11 months. In the same period, LTTE released 226 children, compared with 171 children released in the preceding 11 months, predominantly from Kilinochchi. Of the children recruited, 78 per cent were boys and 22 per cent girls. The average age of the children recruited during the reporting period was 16 years. Among the 6,221 children registered on the UNICEF database as having been recruited since 2001, 1,469 cases remain outstanding, including 335 children currently under 18 years of age as at 31 August 2007.
The reported cases may only be indicative of the actual number of children recruited given access limitations in LTTE-controlled areas. LTTE has designated its so-called Child Protection Authority as the interlocutor on child recruitment issues and Security Council resolution 1612 (2005), and weekly dialogue between UNICEF and the so-called Child Protection Authority continues. As at 22 August 2007, eight children continued to reside in the Educational Skills Development Centre, in violation of the recommendations of the Working Group of the Security Council. At the time of reporting, UNICEF was in the process of arranging the return of those eight children to their families.
UNICEF received confirmed reports that 246 children had been recruited or re-recruited by the Karuna faction during the reporting period, compared with 154 children recruited in the previous 11-month period. Most of the children were recruited from Batticaloa. The Karuna faction released 80 children in the same period, compared with 14 children released in the previous 11-month period. The average age of the children being recruited by the Karuna faction was 16 years. All of the children recruited were boys, with the exception of one girl. From the 385 children registered on the UNICEF database as having been recruited, 214 cases remained outstanding as at 31 August 2007, including 160 children currently less than 18 years old.
The majority of reported child abduction cases occurred in Jaffna, Batticaloa and Vavuniya. Abductions are carried out mainly in the context of recruitment, and are attributed to LTTE and Karuna faction. In some instances, children who were abducted were later found to have been killed. On 14 November 2006, four boys were abducted in Batticaloa. That case is part of several group abductions of children in the area which remain unresolved. On 18 December 2006, 22 students were abducted by LTTE for recruitment purposes while attending a tutoring class in Ampara. All of the children were released within two days as a result of UNICEF advocacy with LTTE. On 22 December 2006 and 18 March 2007, two boys were reportedly detained by the Government of Sri Lanka security forces in Jaffna and have subsequently been reported missing.
Since 1 October 2006, according to verified reports, 46 children were killed and 79 maimed owing to the conflict. This includes the deaths of 11 recruited children, 9 of whom were recruited by LTTE and 2 by the Karuna faction. More than half of the killings and maimings occurred in Batticaloa district. On 2 January 2007, a Sri Lankan Air Force aerial bombardment killed seven children and injured eight in Padahuthurai, an internally displaced persons village near Mannar. All but one of the children was under the age of 10 years. On 2 April 2007, three children were killed and four maimed in a bus explosion at a military checkpoint in Ampara attributed to LTTE.
Aerial strikes and shelling by the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) and attacks by LTTE have resulted in the destruction of schools and the death and injury of students and teachers. On 8 November 2006, an SLA artillery bombardment hit an internally displaced persons camp located in a school in Vaharai, Batticaloa. At least 26 civilians died, including at least 2 children, and at least 69 civilians were injured, including 21 children under the age of 15 years. On 7 December 2006, LTTE shelling hit a school in Trincomalee which resulted in the death of a teacher and injury of 15 people, including 5 children.
Hospitals have also been damaged during SLA operations in the reporting period. On 18 October 2006, the Gramodaya Health Centre in Vaharai was damaged by SLA shelling, and the Centre was used by SLA from January to the end of July 2007. The Special Task Forces of the Government of Sri Lanka have also been utilizing a maternity ward and on-call duty room at a hospital in Batticaloa since July 2007. On 14 July 2007, SLA shelling damaged the maternity section and outpatient department of a hospital in north Vavuniya.
LTTE submitted a draft action plan on 28 March 2007 and a revised version on 19 July 2007, following dialogue with the country-level task force on monitoring and reporting. However, those drafts committed LTTE to a minimum age of recruitment of 17 years until 1 January 2008, at which point the minimum age of recruitment would be raised to 18 years. The delay in raising the minimum age of recruitment to 18 years is contradictory to their previous commitments and international standards. At the time of reporting, LTTE had indicated that the minimum age of recruitment would be raised to 18 years.
However, this has not translated into a commitment to release those between 17 and 18 years old at the present time. On the other hand, despite continued advocacy, there has been less progress with the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulighal, the political wing of the Karuna faction. Following the commitment made to the Working Group of the Security Council, a committee comprising senior officials of the Government of Sri Lanka was established to carry out an independent and credible investigation into the allegations 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.
While the appointment of the committee is welcomed, there is an urgent need for the Government of Sri Lanka to investigate the allegations and take active measures to prevent grave violations against children, including the abduction and recruitment of children by the Karuna faction, especially in Government-controlled areas. Action is also still required by the Government of Sri Lanka to address the situation of children who sought special protection and surrendered to Government forces and who are currently in Pallekele and Jaffna Prisons, including the need for appropriate rehabilitative measures.
The Report makes the following recommendations to the Security Council:
It is recommended that the Security Council consider giving equal care and attention to children affected by armed conflict in all situations of concern listed in the annexes to my report.
It is further recommended that the Security Council give equal weight to all categories of grave violations, including not only the recruitment and use of children, but also the killing and maiming of children, rape and other grave sexual violence, abductions, attacks against schools or hospitals and denial of humanitarian access to children.
While recognizing the efforts and cooperation by some countries, the implementation of the monitoring and reporting mechanism within the framework of Security Council resolution 1612 (2005) should be supported in all situations of concern.
The Security Council is encouraged to continue to call upon parties in situations of armed conflict listed in the annexes to my report to prepare concrete time-bound action plans to halt the recruitment and use of children and other violations and abuses committed against children for which they are cited, including the killing and maiming of children, rape and other grave sexual violence, abductions, attacks against schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian access to children, in violation of international obligations applicable to them, and to expand the call for action plans to all situations of concern.
I welcome the Security Council's continuing consideration of effective targeted measures against parties to armed conflict who continue to systematically commit grave violations against children in armed conflict in defiance of recommendations by the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and of Council resolutions. The Security Council should consider a range of measures, including a ban on the export or supply of arms, a ban on military assistance, the imposition of travel restrictions on leaders, their exclusion from any governance structures and amnesty provisions, and restriction of the flow of financial resources to the parties concerned.
The Security Council is encouraged to empower its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict to recommend to the Council the imposition of targeted measures, and to monitor the implementation of such measures, on parties to armed conflict who commit grave violations against children in all situations of concern listed in the annexes to my report.
It is recommended that all future peacekeeping missions and relevant political missions include within their mandates child protection advisers, as appropriate, to strengthen monitoring and reporting and provide timely and accurate information for prompt advocacy and response for the protection of children affected by armed conflict in those situations.
Member States concerned should take effective action to bring to justice individuals responsible for the recruitment and use of children and other grave violations against children through national justice systems. The Security Council is encouraged to refer to the International Criminal Court, for investigation and prosecution, violations against children in armed conflict that fall within its jurisdiction.
Member States concerned should coordinate with my Special Representative on her engagement with non-State parties to ensure the broad and effective protection of children exposed to situations of concern.
States parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child are encouraged to take measures to support the recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child; to strengthen national and international measures for the prevention of recruitment of children into armed forces or armed groups and their use in hostilities, in particular by signing and ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and enacting legislation that explicitly prohibits the recruitment of children into armed forces/groups and their use in hostilities; to submit reports under the Optional Protocol to the Committee on the Rights of the Child; and to exercise extraterritorial jurisdiction in order to strengthen the international protection of children against recruitment.
Member States are urged to work towards the implementation of a comprehensive strategy on assistance and support to victims of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations staff and related personnel, thereby enabling children who are victims of or born as a result of such abuse to receive much-needed support.
Adequate resources and funding need to be made available by donors to national Governments, the United Nations and partners to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of all children who have been associated with armed forces or armed groups, including relevant and effective programmatic action that reinforces such efforts, while ensuring their long-term sustainability and viability.
Member States are urged to address immediately the grave humanitarian, human rights and development consequences of cluster munitions. To that end, Member States are encouraged to conclude a binding instrument that prohibits the use, development, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians; requires the destruction of current stockpiles of those munitions; and provides for clearance, risk education and other risk-mitigation activities, victim support, assistance and cooperation, and compliance and transparency measures.

Von: www.asiantribune.com, 01.02.2008

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