Child Rights

Sri Lanka




(TCHR is an independent Human Rights organisation – not affiliated to any Tamil Federation or Association)







An Appeal to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights

Un appel à Nations Unies Commission des droits de l'homme

Una Ilamada a Naciones Unidas Comisión de Derechos Humanos







62 Session / Sesiones

March 2006













Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR

Centre Tamoul pour les droits de l'Homme - CTDH

Centro Tamil para los Derechos Humanos


(Established in 1990)


Tamil Centre for Human Rights - TCHR

Centre Tamoul pour les droits de l'Homme - CTDH

Centro Tamil para los Derechos Humanos

(Established in 1990)



Website :


TCHR participation in United Nations World conferences and other meetings


*       A meeting was held on 7 March 2006, in the European Parliament – titled "EU contribution to the        peace         process in Sri Lanka". This was jointly organised by the Tamil Centre for Human Rights         (TCHR) and Mr. Robert         Evans, a member of European Parliament of Labour Party in UK.


*       The Tamil Centre for Human Rights (TCHR) officially accredited to participate in the United     Nations World Summit on the Information Society – WSIS in Tunisia, 16 – 18 November           2005.


*       The Tamil Centre for Human Rights (TCHR), officially participated in the NGO forum of the UN            World         Conference Against Racism – WCAR in Durban, South Africa, from 28 August to 1    September 2001. TCHR held an information stall including an exhibition at the forum. The            TCHR representatives also attended the main WCAR conference held in Durban, 31 August to         7          September 2001.



*       A meeting was held on 14 October 1998, in the European Parliament – titled "Press censorship in     Sri Lanka". This was jointly organised by the Tamil Centre for Human Rights (TCHR) and Ms. Anita            Pollack, a member of European Parliament of Labour Party in UK.


*       In 1993, the TCHR held an information stall and a photo exhibition on human rights violations, in        the United Nations 2nd World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna, Austria, from         14-25    June.


*       TCHR has participated in meetings of Treaty bodies and has submitted reports to the same.



Fact finding missions to the North East of the Island of Sri Lanka


*       May 2003                                             (

*       December 2003 – addendum report         (

*       July-August 2004                                  (


Head Office

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95140 - Garges les Gonesse



Email :

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Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, The Netherlands, United Kingdom




Appeal                                                                                                                    03



Rights of the Child                                                                                               04


            Rights of the child in International Law                                                                      05

            The Sri Lanka government’s stance                                                               06

            Optional Protocol on children in armed conflicts (OP/AC)                              



Fact book on Global Sexual Exploitation                                                                     07


            100,000 children aged 6 to 14 kept in brothels in Sri Lanka                          08

            10,000 to 12,000 children are being prostituted in Sri Lanka                        

            60 per cent of youth are drug addicts                                                           



Child trafficking and Labour in Sri Lanka                                           


            250,000 between 500,000 child labourers in Sri Lanka                                             09

            150,000 children employed as servants                                                                   

            Trafficking in Persons                                                                                   

            More than 500 children missing after Tsunami                                                          

            Women, children sexually abused after tsunami                                                        10

            UN Special Rapporteur on children                                                                11


Child Abuse and Child Prostitution in Sri Lanka

Pedophiles' Paradise


            10,000 Child prostitutes in Sri Lanka                                                             12

            20,000 to 30,000 Child prostitutes in Sri Lanka                                                        

            Youth prostitution on the rise                                                                        

            Complaints of sexual offences against CHILDREN received by police                      

            One out of 10 children sexually abused                                                                   

            Child abuser's sex activities confirmed                                                                      

            Sri Lanka, hotbed for sexual exploitation of children                                      13

            Sri Lanka notorious destination for homosexual paedophiles                        

            40,000 child prostitutes, more than half of them boys                                               

            Beach boys –carriers of HIV/AIDS                                                                

            Fighting child prostitution in Sri Lanka                                                                                  

            Sickening - News of the World investigated                                                    14

            Rapists, abusers prey on disaster victims                                                       15

            Tsunami Unexpectedly Aids Child Sex Trade                                                

            Many Children still abused and neglected in Sri Lanka                                              16

            Stemming child sexual abuse: NCPA's role                                                    17

            US State Department – Country report 2002, 2004 & 2005                                                                       2,070 complaints of violent crimes against children                          18

                       2,000 child prostitutes in the country

                       7,000 boys aged 15-18 years are self-employed prostitutes

            BBC World Service

                       '100 kids abused daily' in Sri Lanka – BBC                                       19                   

                        The year the children suffered – BBC

                        Sri Lanka 'Child abuse' arrests - BBC                                                            



Impact of 20 years of war on the Tamil children


            50,000 children out of school in the affected region                                      20

            Jaffna children suffer trauma – BBC                                                             

            Mostly children killed                                                  

            Navalay Church massacre                                                                             21

            Kumarapuram Massacre                                                                                22

            A school bombed in Jaffna - 42 children killed                                                          

            Massacre of Tamil youths in a detention Centre                                                        23

            136,000 IDPs are children in the North-East                                                  24

            270,000 displaced children                                                                           

            Call to increased action for Sri Lanka's war affected children                        

            Survey reveals alarming malnutrition in North East                                        

            Out of 16,000 children, only a quarter found properly nourished                                          

            16% of tsunami affected children malnourished                                                        25                  

            Save the Tamil Children of Sri Lanka                                                            

            Caring for the children affected by war                                                                     



Child soldiers


            Security forces encourage 15 year old children to join the army                                26

            Children under 18 in Home Guard duty and armed groups                           

            Sri Lanka military lists 70,369 soldiers as deserters                                       

            Child soldiers in the Sri Lanka military                                                            27

            Child soldiers speak to the media                                                                 

            Paramilitary recruits underage boys                                                               28                  

            Child soldier issue is prioritised                                                                                                        

            "Decrease in recruitment and a rise in children being released"                                 29

            UNICEF expressed satisfaction                                                                     

            Some of the many children released                          

            Significant decrease in child recruitment                                                       

            Kanuna’s cadre                                                                                                                               

            TCHR report Dec 2004                                                                                              30

            Child soldiers, labour, prostitution and trafficking have similar causes                       

            Human Rights Watch and its report on Sri Lanka                                       31

                       Political lobby in the Western cities

                       Two Americans kidnapped in Jaffna                                      




            Child Soldiers and the Law - A Survey -  Nadesan Satyendra                                  32
            Child Soldiers? What Child Soldiers?                                                             34

            Child Recruitment                                                                                          35

            UNICEF and Underage Recruitment                                                              37

            Princeton Prof. says 'no' to Sri Lanka Child Monks                                        39
























The Chairperson                                                                                             27 March 2006

Members and Delegates - 62nd Session

United Nations Commission on Human Rights

1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland.


Distinguished Sirs / Mesdames,


Since TCHR was established, we have regularly submitted reports, statements and press releases on violations of human rights, especially on thematic issues. Child rights are no exception to this. We have defended the rights of children without discrimination – the fundamental Rights of the Child, rights affected by Child labour, Child prostitution and the issue of Child soldiers.


International law enshrines standards for excellent protection of the Rights of the Child. The UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the rights of the Child and its optional protocols and other covenants and conventions contain crucial articles protecting these rights.


Out of one hundred and ninety-one member states in the United Nations, not many have signed and ratified all the conventions, covenants and optional protocols. Some have signed, with reservations to certain articles but have never ratified, thereby preventing UN scrutiny.


Countries in conflict have their own political agenda with regard to Child rights. They use certain instruments for their political lobby and ignore others. Thereby the Child rights continue to be neglected in those countries.


As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, Child rights suffer pathetically at the hands of politicians. Instruments are used selectively and the international community, international NGOs, local NGOs and others are smartly manipulated by the government of Sri Lanka to promote it agenda.


A typical example of this are the two Optional Protocols (OP) to the Convention on the rights of the Child (CRC): (1) OP CRC on the involvement of children in armed conflicts (2) OP CRC on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Both optional protocols were adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession on 25 May 2000. Sri Lanka signed the first OP - on the involvement of children in armed conflicts - on 21 August 2000 and ratified it on 08 September 2000, whereas the second OP – on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography was signed on 08 May 2002 but has never been ratified until today.


When we look at the reality of the situation in Sri Lanka, it is very sad to note that Sri Lanka is known as "Paradise for Paedophiles". According to media and NGOs, nearly 100,000 Children are involved in child prostitution in Sri Lanka. But there is no outcry by the government and some NGOs because this business generates massive income in foreign currency. Also as this business is run by those who have strong links with senior government officials, the problem in not raised and pressure is not exerted on Sri Lanka to ratify the "Optional Protocol on child prostitution and child pornography".


The Children in this business in the South, along the beaches are badly affected by HIV and various venereal diseases. This situation has persisted in Sri Lanka for many years.

Another important Children’s rights issue is Child Labour. According to various media and specialised organisations, it is estimated that there is a minimum of 150,000 child labourers in Sri Lanka.


At the same time, more than 110,000 Sri Lankan army deserters have caused another problem affecting children in the South. As the government did not find suitable replacements for these army deserters, the army started recruiting under age school children in the South with bogus birth certificates. It is important to note that when the optional protocol on children in armed conflict was initiated, Sri Lanka was one of the countries which lobbied heavily for the recruiting age for the State to be fifteen years old.


The matter of the non-state party to the conflict recruiting those of the same age has been repeatedly and strongly raised by the international community, as a child soldier issue. Credible reports have announced that the recruiting has been stopped.


Thousands and thousands of children in the NorthEast have been affected by the war: those who have been displaced, missed their schooling, suffered malnutrition, been traumatised by bombings and shellings, lost their parents, maimed by land-mines, disabled – all are in Children’s homes and receive no government help. These well-run children’s homes are helped purely by the Tamil diaspora.


These figures and facts have been systematically hidden from the international community by the government Sri Lanka. The attached report gives facts and figures on Child rights in Sri Lanka.


We respectfully urge you, the Chair and distinguished members and delegates of the Commission to seriously consider our appeal, and to take strong and immediate action. We kindly request you to urge the Sri Lanka government to sign and ratify the CRC’s Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, child prostitution and child pornography. We recommend that the Special Rapporteur with that mandate, carry out a field mission to Sri Lanka and report on the situation.


Thank you

S. V. Kirubaharan

General Secretary



Rights of the Child


Globally, there are several serious problems affecting the human rights of children, inflicting terrible suffering. It is a strong indictment against the adult world that despite Conventions and Declarations protecting children under international law, the exploitation of children persists. Child labour, child pornography and prostitution, child trafficking and the use of child soldiers affect many children world-wide.


Child labour is pervasive in many Asian countries and others such as Turkey, involving the exploitation of children for monetary gain. Working long hours for paltry pay often in horrendous health and safety conditions, these children, from the poorest of families are sometimes main earners of family income. Going to school is simply a far distant dream for these children. The Millennium Goal of primary education for all children is an important challenge facing many countries.


Child pornography abuses the body of the Child for the sexual gratification of inadequate, damaged adults and for financial gain. It is pervasive in many countries. In certain countries children’s increased access to the internet makes them vulnerable to preying adults whose intent is to abuse and exploit them sexually. Through criminal investigations into allegations of child abuse there are more offenders being caught and brought to justice for these heinous crimes, but it remains a massive problem. Among the Asian countries, Sri Lanka stands out as a country where child pornography is rampant.


Child prostitution may be linked to the former two problems mentioned. The child’s very body becomes physically violated, his or her privacy invaded in the most intimate and damaging ways, resulting in various possible physical and psychological health problems. Child prostitution in countries such as Thailand and Sri Lanka is widespread. Powerful forces are involved in organising it or creating the environment in which it can thrive unimpeded by vigilant child protection mechanisms.


Child trafficking is defined as: “The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of children by means of threat, force or coercion for the purpose of sexual or commercial exploitation or domestic servitude.” (UN 2000). Economically deprived children are lured into leaving home, given false expectations of a job elsewhere to earn a living and/or to support their own family. These hopes are soon dashed, when they are incarcerated in a situation of slavery, cruelly forced to work for the economic gain of their captors. International networks of traffickers operate with cunning. New international law instruments on trafficking now give increased leverage to those challenging these exploiters. Child trafficking has even involved children affected by the tsunami, in South of Sri Lanka.


Child soldiers. Children are involved in the military structures of many countries and international work on children’s rights now includes the issue of child soldiers, mostly in countries in Africa, but also including other countries such as Sri Lanka and Peru. In Sierra Leone and Uganda children are forcibly trained in mutilating and raping family members, and looting homes within their own community. Much documentation exists on these horrific practices.


In Sri Lanka the child soldier issue is highly politicised, and needs to be understood in the wider and more holistic context of the violation of the whole range of children’s rights. The Sri Lanka government, responsible for grave and systematic violations against Tamil children, has sought to cover these up with misinformation and propaganda and has benefited from the collusion of the unwitting international community which, since 1983, started supporting this government without neutrality.


Even with the support of the international community, the Sri Lankan government could not suppress the Tamil resistance movement which has the mass support of the people, including 22 Members of Parliament. Therefore the government started raising the child soldier issue, with small groups which do not have popular support and so-called human rights organisations, with the intention of discrediting the resistance movement. We place the attached facts and figures and details in this report, before the international organisations in order that the TRUTH be seen of how the rights of the child are neglected in Sri Lanka by the state and the international community.


In this report we will consider violations of the Rights of the Child especially in two major areas of concern: Child prostitution, existing in horrendous proportions on tourist beaches in the South of the island and Children affected by the armed conflict in the NorthEast.


We will show how instruments of international human rights law protecting children’s rights, have been used selectively by the Sri Lanka government, to further suppress the Tamil people, rather than protecting the rights of the children in the whole of the island. We will examine the follow-on response by the international community, concerned about child rights, yet oblivious to the real situation in Sri Lanka. When a government’s biased approach is accepted unquestioningly, serious injustices occur regarding public perceptions of a freedom movement struggling to protect its people, including its children, from the onslaughts of a government well practised in genocide.













Rights of the child in International Law




                                                                                                         Date signed    Date ratified

Instrument of International Law                                                      by Sri Lanka   by Sri Lanka



20 November 1989 (CRC)

Convention on the Rights of the Child                                                           26 Jan 1990   12 Jul 1991 


25 May 2000 (CRC-OPAC)
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights

of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflicts                        21 Aug 2000   08 Sep 2000


25 May 2000 (CRC-OPSC)

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights                            08 May 2002   Not ratified

of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution

and child pornography


ILO Convention 182

Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, (No. 182)1999                                         01 Mar. 2001

17 June 1999


Minimum Age Convention, (No. 138)                                                                        01 Feb. 2000

26 June 1973



Other international law


International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights                                          11 June 1980


International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights                                                   11 June 1980

Optional protocoal I                                                                                                 

Optional protocoal II                                                                                                 03 Oct. 1997


The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (1998)             Not signed      Not ratified


Ottawa Landmines Treaty                                                                 Not signed      Not ratified


Universal Declaration of Human Rights – UDHR                                                     




















The Sri Lanka government’s stance on :


(1)        Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflicts (OP/AC)

(2)        Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (OP/CP)




                                                          (1) OP/AC                                           (2) OP/CP


Ratification                                        Immediate                                          No action


Propaganda                                       Very strong                                         Non


Campaign by Local media                Very strong                                         Nothing


Campaign by International NGOs     Very strong                                         Ignored


Action by local NGOs                                   Politicised                                           Ignored


Funding for the NGOs                                   Very Good *                                       Not encouraged


Number in Sri Lanka                         Exaggerated figures                           + 100,000

                                                          (Because of the Ethnic conflict)


The approach to this issue               This is highly politicised in                   Massive Income                                                                    Sri Lanka, to justify the                                   generator through                                                                 Killing of Tamil children                                   the Tourist industry


*          Many local and international NGOs working on the OP/AC are funded by Sri Lanka, in order to look after its own interests.                       



On Child Rights, the priorities of the Sri Lanka government are crystal clear from the above chart. The problem of Child prostitution has existed in Sri Lanka for a very long time and is extremely grave, as can be seen from the information given in this report. Yet Sri Lanka has not even started to address this problem by agreeing to meet international standards. Sri Lanka has not taken the Child prostitution issue seriously, because it generates income in this country through the Tourist industry.


On the other hand, the question of children in armed conflict is dealt with by addressing the issue immediately – not because of concerns for children in armed conflict (the OP deals with all affected children not just children involved in military) but in order to use this issue to create propaganda.



Optional Protocol on children in armed conflicts (OP/AC)


1 -        It is very unfortunate that this optional protocol has not defined the "Child soldier".


2 –       This optional protocol is more for the interests of the state than for the rights of children. For that reason the recruiting age for the state has been brought down to 15.


3 –       According to this optional protocol, when a child is under 18 years old and joins the government forces, s/he is known as a legal soldier. If the same child joins a non-state force at the same age s/he becomes a child soldier. NGOs who depend on states for funding their projects have also agreed to this arrangement.


4 –       There is no mention of Child soldiers being tested to find out their real age. Because states have manipulated this protocol in such a way, any recruit with a bogus Birth certificate claiming their age to be sixteen could be accepted legally.





Fact book on Global Sexual Exploitation

Sri Lanka



10,000 to 12,000 children from rural areas are trafficked and prostituted to pedophiles by organized crime groups. ("Sri Lankan children for sale on the Internet," Julian West, New Delhi, London Telegraph, 26 Oct 1997)


The military and political situation in Sri Lanka has led to an increase in migration, which has made women extremely vulnerable to trafficking for prostitution. (Indrani Sinha, executive director, "Paper on Globalization and Human Rights," SANLAAP)



In India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal, child marriage is accepted and considered the best method to procure girls for prostitution. (Indrani Sinha, SANLAAP India, "Paper on Globalization and Human Rights")


Prostitution Tourism

Sri Lanka is one of the favourite destinations of paedophile sex tourists from Europe and the United States. ("Global law to punish sex tourists sought by Britain and EU," The Indian Express, 21 November 1997)


5,000 to 30,000 Sri Lanka boys are used by Western pedophile sex tourists in Sri Lanka. (Sri Lankan activists, Feizal Smith, "Sri Lanka: Tightening Screws on Paedophiles," IPS, 20 February 1998)


600 advertisements for Sri Lankan children, most boys, appeared on the Internet in October 1997. Child care experts in Sri Lanka warned that child prostitution was being promoted to foreigners on the Internet, making it one of the worst countries for child abuse. Local middlemen, mostly from Europe are used to find children of the required age for paedophiles, who then travel to Sri Lanka. (BBC, 8 Nov 1997)


Policy and Law

Sri Lanka tightened laws on the exploitation of children, making paedophilia a non-bail able offence, with the maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and victims entitled to compensation. (Feizal Smith, "Sri Lanka: Tightening Screws on Paedophiles," IPS, 20 February 1998)


In 1996 the government raised The age of consent from 12 to 16, and made prison sentences, ranging from 10 to 20 years, mandatory for sex offenders. No arrests have been made. Campaigners criticise the moves as "cosmetic". ("Sri Lankan children for sale on the Internet," Julian West, New Delhi, London Telegraph, 26 Oct 1997)


Official Response and Action

Police set up a national desk for child abuse. Eleven foreigners, mostly Europeans, were arrested. Most have either been deported, jumped bail, or been given minimal fines. (Julian West, "Sri Lankan children for sale on the Internet," London Telegraph, 26 October 1997)



Two Europeans were deported to face trial in their own countries last year on charges of being paedophiles under a law that allows extra-territorial jurisdiction. (Sri Lankan activists, Feizal Smith, "Sri Lanka: Tightening Screws on Paedophiles," IPS, 20 February 1998)



Sri Lanka is a principal source of child pornography for the United States and Europe. (Laura Lederer, "Sri Lankan children for sale on the Internet," Julian West, New Delhi, London Telegraph, 26 Oct 1997)


Swedish police seized 300 hours of film showing Western men exploiting Sri Lankan children in 1995. ("Sri Lankan children for sale on the Internet," Julian West, New Delhi, London Telegraph, 26 Oct 1997) (Courtesy :







100,000 children aged 6 to 14 kept in brothels in Sri Lanka


Although it is nearly impossible to provide accurate statistics about the number of children involved in prostitution, the examples below provide an overview of the problem8


Sri Lanka: 100,000 children between the ages of 6 and 14 are kept in brothels and an additional 5,000 children between 10 and 18 are working in tourist areas. (Excerpt



Child care workers estimate

10,000 to 12,000 children are being prostituted in Sri Lanka


Little information exists on the trafficking of persons in Sri Lanka. However, the presence of child prostitution and illegal immigration indicates a high probability of trafficking. Sri Lanka has a reputation as a pedophile’s paradise. In 1997, it was considered the principle source of child pornography for the United States and Europe. Child care workers in Sri Lanka estimate that between 10,000 and 12,000 children are being prostituted, many of whom were orphaned during the 14-year civil war. According to a 1996 study by End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism, almost 30,000 boys are in prostitution in Sri Lanka. In addition to child prostitution, other forms of commercial sex are increasing. It is estimated that one-third of women and children in prostitution in Sri Lanka were trafficked into the country. (Excerpt -



60 per cent of youth are drug addicts


Sixty five percent of those aged between 15-35 in the lower income groups are involved in substance abuse said R.K.P. Rajapakse, programme coordinators for Sri Lanka Anti Narcotics Bureau - SLANA. "The main reasons for this, according to the recent studies, is unemployment, low level of education, poverty and high population density; particular in the Western Province," Rajapakse said. (Excerpts – Sunday Leader, 17 July 2005)



* * * * *






















Child trafficking and Labour

in Sri Lanka



250,000 between 500,000 child labourers in Sri Lanka


24. Another aspect of poverty is the incidence of child labour. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that there are between 250,000 and 500,000 child labourers in Sri Lanka today4 . The most common forms of child labour are domestic employment (i.e. as household servants), involuntary begging on the streets, child prostitution, working in the informal sector, in the gemstones industry and in sectors such as tourism and fishing. It has been estimated by the Government and by international organizations such as the ILO and United Nations Children’s Fund that there are 30,000 child prostitutes in Sri Lanka. The problem of child labour is especially prevalent in the plantation sector. In 1997, the total resident labour force of the plantation sector was estimated at 305,000 of which 33,000 (or 11 percent) were child labourers below 14 years of age.




150,000 children employed as servants


( - Posted: Apr Thu 28, 2005 6:49 pm)

"Sri Lanka recorded nearly 150,000 children employed as servants and workers in homes and hotels around the country nearly three years back" .

"According to UNICEF and ILO statistics, there are nearly 40,000 child prostitutes in the country while 5,000 to 30,000 Sri Lankan boys are used by Western paedophile sex tourists in Sri Lanka. Nearly 10,000 to 12,000 children from rural areas are trafficked and prostituted to paedophiles by organised crime groups. "




Trafficking in Persons


Country Reports on Human Rights Practices  - 2002

Released on March 31, 2003


Sri Lanka


The law prohibits trafficking in persons; however, Sri Lanka is a country of origin and destination for trafficked persons, primarily women and children for the purposes of forced labour, and for sexual exploitation. Sri Lankan women travel to Middle Eastern countries to work as domestics and some have reported being forced into domestic servitude and sexual exploitation. A small number of Thai, Russian, and Chinese women have been trafficked to Sri Lanka for purposes of sexual exploitation. Some Sri Lankan children are trafficked internally to work as domestics and for sexual exploitation. There were unconfirmed reports that boys were trafficked to the Middle East as camel jockeys. (Excerpts -



More than 500 children missing after Tsunami


Parents in Hambantota, Thangalle, Galle and Mahavali are looking for more than 500 children who escaped from the Tsunami disaster and living in various centres. A complaint has been made at Child care centre.


According to Prof Harendra Silva not a single child has been traced. The parents have said these children are being hidden for child slavery and prostitution. (Puthinam 27 May 2005)


Women, children sexually abused after tsunami

Colombo, Sri Lanka, Jan. 5 (UPI) --
Deprived of the safety of their homes, hundreds of thousands of women and children in the tsunami refugee camps in southern Sri Lanka live in absolute fear of sexual abuse.


Rising incidents of sexual assault on displaced women and children has become a serious problem for the authorities and the aid agencies engaged in relief work.


"In most camps in southern Sri Lanka, women and children are scared to step out of their shelter after dusk," said a Western aid worker. "There have been incidents of sexual assault on young women and children in some camps."


Camp residents and aid workers said that most of the sexual assaults took place when the victim left the shelter in darkness either to find food or for some urgent work.


"Women and children in these camps are afraid to go out and fetch water from the tank provided by us," said the aid worker. "They want protection from the people who are abusing women and children, and it is the duty of the state."


There are military personnel in uniforms of all colours, from nations engaged in relief operations. Even their presence has not reduced the number of attacks. These soldiers do not provide security in the camps; they supply relief. The lax security of the camps has come as a boon to the rapists.


"The soldiers are not here all the time to protect us, so I do not go out of the shelter after sunset," said 17-year-old Sriyani, who now lives in a camp in the southern Galle district. "I have heard that many women and girls have been attacked and raped, so it is better to stay inside till sunrise even if I have to sleep on an empty stomach."


A women's rights organization, the Women and Media Collective, conducted a weeklong survey of the camps and its reports indicated that there was no safety or security arrangement made for the camps.


"We have received reports of incidents of rape, gang rape, molestation and physical abuse of women and girls in the course of unsupervised rescue operations and while residing in the temporary shelters particularly in the south," the Women and Media Collective said in a statement.


At least one case of gang rape has been registered with the police in the southern Galle district, one of the worst-hit areas of the country. The victim was admitted to the district hospital.


"I was shocked to hear that a woman was gang raped," said another relief worker of an international organization. "I could never imagine that these people, who have lost their homes can still stoop to such a low level and abuse women and children, who are homeless like them."


The police and the national child protection authority have begun working with non-governmental organizations to address the problem and collect details of the assaults reported so far.

"We have been getting reports of sexual abuse and harassment of women and girls who are in the camps and also during the rescue operation immediately after the tsunami hit us," said Sepali Kotegoda of Women and Media Collective. "We do know that complaints of sexual harassment and abuse have been made to the police in the south."


Teams are being sent to police stations in these areas to collect details. They will also visit the camps and get more information by talking to women, Kotegoda said.


Non-governmental organizations say that it would not be possible to get statistics of rape and sexual assaults in the camps and villages around them, as many victims do not report to the police fearing social stigma.


Additionally, there is great concern by authorities in the region for the tens of thousands of children who have orphaned by the tsunami. Authorities and relief agencies fear many of them may be prone to kidnapping to be "sold" for sexual favours.




United Nations Special Rapporteur


Report on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography


E/CN.4/2002/88 ­ 4 February 2002


Sri Lanka

Communication sent


29        On 8 October 2001, the Special Rapporteur transmitted an urgent appeal with the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, including its causes and consequences, concerning an allegation of slavery involving Ms. Palanithami Sasikala. According to the information received, Ms. Palanithami Sasikala was kidnapped on 28 September 1998 from her home on Vishu Kovil Road, Pethalai Valaichenai, by her uncle, Mr. Mudaliar Velupillai. He allegedly took her to his house and then handed her over to Mr. HHABS Opatha, an army officer attached to the Kayankeney Army Camp, Valaichenai, Batticaloa. Mr. Opatha then reportedly took Ms. Palanithami Sasikala to his mother’s house in Dambulla. Since then, she has reportedly been forced to work as an unpaid domestic aid, and has not been allowed to attend school. It has been further reported that on 2 July 2001, her family filed a complaint with the Kalumunai police, who asked Mr. Opatha to report to the station, which he did. However, it is reported that Ms. Palanithami Sasikala was not released. The two Special Rapporteurs were also informed that although the family had filed another complaint, no action had yet been taken by the authorities.


Communication received


30        By letter dated 20 December 2001, the Government of Sri Lanka informed the Special Rapporteur about the case of Ms. Palanithambi Sasikaran. The Government reported that an investigation had been initiated after a complaint was made to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka by an NGO, Home for Human Rights, on behalf of Ms. Palanithambi Sasikaran. According to the investigations, Ms. Palanithambi Sasikaran was handed over to Mr. Opatha of the Sri Lankan army by her grandfather when she was 12 years old and SL Rs 1,000/- per month was given to the grandfather for about one and a half years. According to the Government, there was consensus that the child was not being kept by Mr. Opatha or his mother forcibly. Furthermore, the inquiry did not show any evidence that Mr. Opatha took the child using his authority as an officer of the army. The Government further stated that the only issue, if any, to be examined would be the question of custody of the child.

* * * * *











Child Abuse and

Child Prostitution in Sri Lanka


Pedophiles' Paradise



10,000 Child prostitutes in Sri Lanka


UNICEF estimates that over half of the 30,000 child sex workers in Sri Lanka are boys. Hope for the Nations, a non-profit organization working in Asia goes further to say that as many as 30,000 boys are involved in Sri Lanka’s sex trade. Many are known as “beach boys” because they are often forced to work by those who own property along the coastline.

(Remarks by Hon. David Kilgour, MP for Edmonton Southeast and Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific), at the 7th Annual Model United Nations Assembly, Grant MacEwan College, City Centre Campus, 10700-104 Ave., Edmonton - March 1, 2003) (


20,000 to 30,000 Child prostitutes in Sri Lanka


The sex trade in many countries involves young boys who are offered to European, American, and Asian tourists, sometimes as part of vacation packages:


Twenty to thirty thousand of Sri Lanka's child prostitutes are boys who are "rented" to tourist pedophiles. (Excerpts -


Youth prostitution on the rise


The instances of prostitution amongst young girls and boys is high today, especially many of whom are still in their teens. The trend, according to police sources is on the increase, particularly in rural Sri Lanka.


Complaints of sexual offences against CHILDREN received by police


                       1995     1996     1997     1998     1999     2000     2001     2002     2003     2004


Rape                155       168       308       385       609       668       685       714       753       930

Other sexual

offences           50        204       113       187       423       586       419       484       579       515


harassment       24        130       193       259       219       329       462       466       512       654


(Excerpts – Sunday Leader, 22 May 2005)


One out of 10 children sexually abused


One out of every 10 children interviewed by UNICEF said that they were subjected to sexual abuse. According to the National Survey on Emerging Issues Among Adolescents In Sri Lanka, most of the children who were victims in early adolescence were boys (14%) while the statistics were the same with both genders in mid or late adolescence (10%). (Excerpts – Sunday Leader, 17 July 2005)


Child abuser's sex activities confirmed


Medical reports submitted to courts confirm that three more children had been sexually abused by the alleged British paedophile, Michael G Smith.


The three male children, along with other two male children were with the Englishman, during their visit to Mannar. The children are from Negombo and were living in the neighbourhood where the suspect local family which provided safe haven for Mr. Smith resided. The medical reports confirms that children were subjected to kissing with several bite marks observed around their lips. (Excerpts – Sunday Times, 9 October 2005)


Sri Lanka, hotbed for sexual exploitation of children


Sri Lanka police recorded 1643 cases of child abuse last year which was an increase compared to 1474 cases in 2002 and 1392 cases in 2001. Children’s rights activists are quick to warn that thousands of cases go unreported. One government figure estimates that there are over 30,000 cases of sexual exploitation of children on the island and although that number is in dispute, activists agree that the numbers are well in the thousands.

Of the 1643 cases reported last year, 734 of them were related to sexual abuse and much to the alarm of children’s rights advocates, only a meagre 30 foreign paedophiles have been arrested over the past two years and few have been prosecuted. (Excerpts- June 23, 2004, 18:23  [TNS])


Sri Lanka notorious destination for homosexual paedophiles


In Sri Lanka - a notorious destination for homosexual paedophiles - child prostitution is described as "rampant''. "Commercial sexual exploitation of children is a significant problem, particularly child prostitution and child sex tourism,'' reports Ecpat. Some estimates suggest there may be as many as 10,000 "beach boys'' catering to male tourists on the south and south-west coasts.


(Malcolm Macalister Hall reports on the problem of sex tourism worldwide and what you can do to help prevent it. The Telegraph, Travel Section 13 September 2003 –


40,000 child prostitutes, more than half of them boys


With approximately 40,000 child prostitutes—more than half of them boys—Sri Lanka has been described as a ”pedophile’s pleasure centre.” Extreme poverty and years of civil war have left many children homeless and easy prey for sexual predators and traffickers. Sometimes boys and girls as young as 3 years old are captured. Others are sold to pimps for a few dollars by their desperately poor guardians or family members. (2003/06/22 -


Beach boys –carriers of HIV/AIDS


"There is no way to deny that our resorts are making money and the indirect income generation is also high. It is to this indirect income generation that the problem of male sex workers is tied" he observed.


NGO claims that while tourism is pitched as one of Sri Lanak's most profitable industries earning an estimated US$300 million a year – the industry is however blamed for the prolific growth in boy sex workers on the beaches. Statistics show that by 2004, Sri Lanka had an estimated 8,000 people living with HIV out of whom 800 were children.


Chairperson, NCPA Dr. Hiranthi Wijemanna told The Sunday Leader that while child sex workers faced a high risk of contacting HIV, it was also very difficult to identify these children as cases were hidden and kept confidential. "Although these children face a high risk of the disease, they keep it hidden and continue with their trade. There are many children under the age of 18 who are involved in the sex trade that the authorities are unable to identify due to the lack of proof to support such evidence", Dr Wijemanma said. (Excerpt – The Sunday Leader 24 July 2005)


Fighting child prostitution in Sri Lanka

(November 2004 -


Several factors, including the legality of prostitution and the presence of organized crime rings, have contributed to making Sri Lanka a cesspool of sexual exploitation. Research in '97 showed that Sri Lanka is the principal source of child pornography for the U.S. and Europe. Several indigenous ministries operate homes where rescued boys and girls can receive food, clothing, education and medical care for these children are especially susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases. Through counselling many have accepted Christ as Saviour. All receive special tutoring so they can enter state schools and obtain an education, a key to finding legitimate jobs and not falling back into prostitution. (excerpt - CHRISTIAN AID/HCJB 4 Oct.'04)



News of the World investigated :


Tsunami killed their mum.. now we catch grandpa selling them to paedophiles

(Sunday 30th January 2005)


ANGEL-faced orphans Chamilka and Gemhani lost their mum and their home to the tsunami but now face a greater horror—being sold to sex beasts by their granddad.


The terrified sisters survived the killer wave after it struck the village of Hikkaduwa in Sri Lanka. But after their dad lost his mind with grief and fled the country, they were left in the clutches of evil Aruma Somadasa.


Now he wants to sell them to paedophiles for £5,000 each. "You can take both girls, take them abroad if you want, or take just one," he said.


"You can do what you like with them, they are naive and can be moulded,"



For years vile Somadasa has supplied boys and girls to sex tourists who pay just £1 a night to abuse them.


Our investigators were tipped off about him by a local, who said: "This man is trying to make money from the tragedy in the lowest possible way. It is sickening." We tracked Somadasa to a refugee centre in Botapola.


His eyes lit up as he saw Western faces approaching and in a mixture of broken English and Singhalese told how the tragedy had affected his family. But he was more worried about the material possessions he had lost than the fate of his grandchildren—or his dead daughter Kopige.


"The cottage where my grandchildren lived is gone but I suffered badly too. Although my house is not totally destroyed, the building is damaged and my fridge, cooker and TV set are destroyed."


As Somadasa spoke the innocent girls cuddled up to him. Chamilka, nine, managed a nervous smile and Gemhani chipped in: "I'm nearly eight, it's my birthday soon!"


But getting back to business Somadasa said: "You better decide quickly if you want them—I have been approached by an American man and two British men as well."


He said the girls could stay in Sri Lanka and just see the buyer when he visited—or he could sell them permanently.



"I don't mind if someone pays some money and takes them away for a little while," he said.


"They can see the girls whenever they visit Sri Lanka and the girls will go with nobody else. If someone can pay me one million rupees (£5,000) for each girl then it's OK." But on Tuesday, after a tip-off from the News of the World, local child protection officers raided the shelter, taking the sisters into care.


Somadasa was arrested for trying to sell them in an illegal adoption. He was bailed and faces trial next month.


Following our investigation, Professor Harendra De Silva, chairman of the National Child Protection Authority, swung into action. He said: "I have instructed all Western embassies not to grant visas to children and for all adoptions to be suspended. It is alarming that paedophiles are targeting children at such a time." (ONLINE EDITION Sunday 30th January 2005 – News of the World)


Rapists, abusers prey on disaster victims

By Liz Minchin

January 5, 2005


"Lots of children are being abducted and taken away for slavery . . . This robbing of children, it's happening on a large scale," Kantha Shakti executive director Rohini Weerasinghe told The Age.


Even on the day the tsunami struck, women were abducted, she said. There has been no news of those women since.


Other reports of abuse have been equally shocking.


"The fingers have been cut off dead bodies for the rings, and even the dead bodies (of women) have been abused according to what we hear, she said. "There is a young woman who has been gang-raped . . We have not seen these things, but this is the news we hear from reliable sources."


The Sri Lankan Government has confirmed that it is investigating abuses of tsunami victims, including an incident in which an orphaned and homeless girl, 17, was gang-raped by six men near Galle in the south.


Professor Harendra de Silva, head of Sri Lanka's National Child Protection Authority, told The Island newspaper that women and children gathered amid chaos in makeshift shelters across the country were at greater risk of sexual abuse.


But others believe opportunism alone does not explain the abuse of people whose lives have already been shattered.


Ms Weerasinghe said: "This is a country that went through a (civil) war for 20 years, and when a country goes through war there is moral and political degeneration, and people become very desensitised to violence. But of course ultimately it is the powerlessness, the unequal power of women in this society that is responsible for this being able to happen."




Tsunami Unexpectedly Aids Child Sex Trade


(POSTED: 9:21 pm PST February 1, 2005 - UPDATED: 8:26 pm PST February 2, 2005)


NEAR COLOMBO, SRI LANKA -- 'Thailand for girls, Sri Lanka for boys.' It is a curious, but seemingly innocent phrase until you find out who came up with the slogan. Child advocates say it was coined by child predators to notify other predators where it is easiest to get the gender they prefer in child prostitutes.


In Sri Lanka an estimated 30,000 children are trapped in the child sex trade -- 70 percent of them are boys. They are almost always children from the poorest of the poor families; families too hungry to want to know what happens to their child when they disappear for a few days.


Maureen Seneviratne, child advocate: "We found that many of these people were taking it quite for granted that a boy would be taken down to a southern beach or a West Coast beach or right into the heart of the country in the hill country and brought back in about a week or two with a little money. With about 10 U.S. dollars. Ten U.S. dollars was a fortune to these people."


Seneviratne has worked the Sri Lanka streets for 10 years trying to stop the child sex trade that preys upon the poor. She says the tsunami created thousands of poorer and desperate families -- making their children prime targets for child predators.


Seneviratne: "There is an endless demand. And we can't cut off the demand all we can do is cut off the supply."


The neighbourhood where she works is inhabited by the most desperate -- families originally displaced by war or poverty, families who stole a bit of government-owned land close to the ocean so they could fish for food.


Seneviratne: "We didn't make it very clear at the beginning that we were trying to stop trafficking and prostitution."


KTVU's Sara Sidner: "Why did you do this?"


Seneviratne: "Because if we went and told them that they would have chopped our damn heads off. That's why. Because they said, 'Oh, you are coming in here to stop our income. What are you bothered about our boys if a boy goes with a man he doesn't get pregnant. It's the girls we look after we are not bothered about the boys.'"


Seneviratne: "We started by offering them programs of education."


Sara Sidner: "Are these children going to school?"


Seneviratne: "Oh no they’re not going to school, they haven't school uniforms. We can't give them two meals a day, what school? They do any work that comes to hand."


Seneviratne was not put off by the families' resistance or the threats on her life she received from those who traffic in children.


Seneviratne: "The first program that we did here in one of the school halls they came drunk at 10 in the morning."


Seneviratne: "They came in dirty cloths a cloth and jacket not washed. No slippers..."


Many Children still abused and neglected in Sri Lanka

(By Damitha Hemachandra, Daily Mirror 08th October, 2003)


Child prostitution, child labour, violence against children and general inconsideration of children's feelings and views are evident in Sri Lanka.


According to the Chairman of the National Child Protection Authority, Prof. Harendra de Silva, nearly 20% of boys and 10% of girls get sexually abused in their own homes and schools at the hands of parents, teachers or someone known to them while Sri Lanka recorded nearly 150,000 children employed as servants and workers in homes and hotels around the country nearly three years back.


According to UNICEF and ILO statistics, there are nearly 40,000 child prostitutes in the country while 5,000 to 30,000 Sri Lankan boys are used by Western paedophile sex tourists in Sri Lanka. Nearly 10,000 to 12,000 children from rural areas are trafficked and prostituted to paedophiles by organised crime groups.


The use of children for alcohol and drug trafficking is a serious problem while the authorities are yet to crack the countrywide network, which deals with child trafficking and prostitution.


"No one actually knows the correct number of child prostitutes and children involved in trafficking," says Prof. de Silva adding that ground research is yet to be performed on these subjects.


Accordingly, an unofficial survey conducted by the ILO, showed that nearly 35,000 children are now employed mainly at shops and small factories.


Yet the main threat lies in commercial fishing spots more commonly known as vaadiyas.


According to the recent ILO report, one of the most destructive forms of child labour in Sri Lanka prevails in the fishing industry. Children are recruited in fishing 'vaadiyas' most of which are situated in remote areas and children are kept in conditions of virtual slavery.


The situation has reached a climax today where the world identifies Sri Lanka as a paedophiles' paradise. Although the government estimates that there are 2,000 active child prostitutes in the country private groups claim the number is as high as 40,000.


Most of these children, 80% of whom are boys, are sexually exploited in tourist centres and are trafficked around the country to serve the tourists.


"Unlike child labour, sexual harassment is a closed issue which will include less public involvement," says Prof. Harendra de Silva.

(Excerpts -


Stemming child sexual abuse: NCPA's role


The demand for child pornography and child prostitutes is staggering to say the least. In 1998, 600 advertisements, of a sexual nature, appeared on the Internet for Sri Lankan children! The local police are often unsure how to tackle the problem as it is so vast and widespread. They allege that 10,000 to 12,000 children from rural areas are trafficked and prostituted by organised crime groups to paedophiles staying at various seedy seaside hotels. Coastal districts of Bentota, Beruwala and Galle are hit the hardest due to poverty.


Children, as young as 10, can be seen roaming the beaches, where foreigners lay sunning themselves, looking for clients. Most often they find an ever-willing `uncle', who draws them in with promises of imported sweets and a few rupees.



US State Department


2,070 complaints of violent crimes against children

Country report on Human Rights Practices 2005 - Sri Lanka

Released on March 8, 2006

Sri Lanka


………, On October 25, following the arrests of 25 prostitutes and the 2 men who operated the brothel that housed them, the deputy inspector general (DIG) of police responsible for Nugegoda ordered the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), who led the raid, to release all of those arrested. The ASP refused, processed the arrested persons, and complained to higher authorities. In the ensuing investigation, authorities learned that the DIG received $6 thousand (approximately SLR 613 thousand) per month to allow the brothel to operate. At year's end authorities had not charged the DIG, and no action was taken against him.



During the year the Bureau for the Protection of Children and Women received 2,070 complaints of violent crimes against children.


Child prostitution was a problem in coastal resort areas. The government estimated that there were more than two thousand child prostitutes in the country, but private groups claimed that the number was as high as six thousand. Citizens committed much of the child sexual abuse in the form of child prostitution; however, some child prostitutes were boys who catered to foreign tourists. Some of these children were forced into prostitution (see section 5, Trafficking). The Department of Probation and Child Care Services provided protection to child victims of abuse and sexual exploitation and worked with local NGOs that provided shelter. The tourist bureau conducted awareness-raising programs for at-risk children in resort regions prone to sex tourism.


Trafficking in Persons


The law prohibits trafficking in persons; however, the country was a point of origin and destination for trafficked persons, primarily women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and sexual exploitation. The country was a source for trafficked women. Some women were trafficked under the guise of legitimate employment to Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Qatar for the purpose of coerced labour and sexual exploitation. A smaller number of Thai, Chinese, and Ethiopian women were trafficked to the country for commercial sexual exploitation. Women and children were trafficked internally for domestic and sexual servitude. Boys and girls were victims of commercial sexual exploitation by pedophiles in the sex tourism industry.


Internal trafficking in male children was also a problem, especially from areas bordering the northern and eastern provinces. Protecting Environment and Children Everywhere, a domestic NGO, estimated that there were 6 thousand male children between the ages of 8 and 15 years engaged as sex workers at beach and mountain resorts. Some of these children were forced into prostitution by their parents or by organized crime.


d. Prohibition of Child Labour and Minimum Age for Employment


The minimum age for employment is 14, although the law permits the employment of younger children by their parents or guardians in limited family agriculture work or to engage in technical training. An amendment to the Employment of Women and Youth Act prohibits all other forms of family employment of children below 14. A child activity survey, carried out in 1998 and 1999 by the Department of Census and Statistics, found almost 11 thousand children between the ages of 5 and 14 working full time and another 15 thousand engaged in both economic activity and housekeeping. The survey found 450 thousand children employed by their families in seasonal agricultural work throughout the country.


Many child domestics reportedly were subjected to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Regular employment of children also occurred in family enterprises such as family farms, crafts, small trade establishments, restaurants, and repair shops. In 2003 International Labour Organization/International Program for Elimination of Child Labour sponsored a rapid assessment survey on domestic child labour in 5 districts found child domestic workers (under 18 years) in roughly 2 percent of households, but the prevalence of child domestics was much larger. (Excerpts -



2,000 child prostitutes in the country

Country report on Human Rights Practices 2004 - Sri Lanka

Released on February 28, 2005

Sri Lanka



During the year, the Bureau for the Protection of Children and Women received 1,841 complaints of violent crimes against children.


During the year, 39 cases of pedophilia were brought to court and were pending at year's end. Child prostitution was a problem in certain coastal resort areas. The Government estimated that there were more than 2,000 child prostitutes in the country, but private groups claimed that the number was as high as 6,000. Citizens committed much of the child sexual abuse in the form of child prostitution; however, some child prostitutes were boys who catered to foreign tourists. Some of these children were forced into prostitution (see Section 5, Trafficking). (Excerpts -



7,000 boys aged 15-18 years are self-employed prostitutes

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices  - 2002

Released on March 31, 2003

Sri Lanka



Child prostitution is a problem in certain coastal resort areas. The Government estimates that there are more than 2,000 active child prostitutes in the country, but private groups claim that the number is much higher (see Section 6.f.). The bulk of child sexual abuse in the form of child prostitution is committed by citizens; however, some child prostitutes are boys who cater to foreign tourists. Some of these children are forced into prostitution (see Section 6.f.).


Section 6.f - Internal trafficking in male children was also a problem, especially from areas bordering the northern and eastern provinces. Protecting Environment and Children Everywhere (PEACE), a domestic NGO, estimated that in 2001 there were at least 5,000 male children between the ages of 8 and 15 years who were engaged as sex workers both at beach and mountain resorts. Some of these children were forced into prostitution by their parents or by organized crime (see Section 5). PEACE also reports that an additional 7,000 young men aged 15 to 18 years are self-employed prostitutes; however, some organizations believe the PEACE numbers to be inflated. (Excerpts -







'100 kids abused daily' in Sri Lanka

(BBC News - 9 February 1999 )

By Colombo Correspondent Susannah Price


The first scientific study on the scale of child sexual abuse in Sri Lanka has concluded that 100 young people are sexually exploited or abused every day on the island.


The draft report prepared by a local organisation called Protecting Children and Environment Everywhere found that while foreign paedophiles came to Sri Lanka to have sex with young boys, it was girls who suffered most from abuse within the community.


The scale of the abuse has never been widely investigated. The researchers into this first draft study on sexually exploited and abused children concluded there were between 10,000-15,000 boys involved in the sex trade, not only in beach areas but also in the hill country and near other tourist sites.


They found the boys were mostly aged between eight and 15 and while most of them came from fishing hamlets and coastal villages, about a third were lured from the inland rural areas by promises of work.


The study said most foreign paedophiles came from western Europe but pointed out the involvement of local agents and pimps. (Excerpts)



The year the children suffered
(BBC news - November 8, 1997)


Sri Lanka

A judge and two policemen from Switzerland arrived in Sri Lanka during February 1997 as part of an investigation into a suspected Swiss paedophile.


A senior police official said the suspect had a young Sri Lankan boy with him when he was arrested in Bern. He said the man may have taken more Sri Lankan boys to Switzerland.


In October 1997 child care experts in Sri Lanka warned that child prostitution was being promoted to foreigners on the Internet, making it one of the worst countries for child abuse.



Sri Lanka 'child abuse' arrests
(Frances Harrison, BBC World service – 8 October 2003)


Ten men, including two Buddhist monks, have been arrested in Sri Lanka in connection with allegations of sexual abuse of at least 11 boys in an orphanage in the capital, Colombo. Two hundred and seventy boys and girls - many of them war orphans - are currently being questioned by police officers attached to the country's National Child Protection Agency.


The head of the agency, Harendra de Silva, said it was possible other alleged child victims would come forward as the 120 girls in the home had not been interviewed yet.


Those thought to have been abused were mostly Sinhalese but included one Muslim boy as well as three Tamils.


An official at the children's home said the two monks arrested were not from the orphanage itself but from a nearby Buddhist temple.


The same official alleged that a lady had come to the home and paid the children money to make false allegations against the monks.


The child protection agency says the 10 arrested men will be charged in court and under amendments to the law will face very tough penalties if found guilty.


Mr Silva said they had investigated about 15 cases in the past seven years where Buddhist monks were implicated in child abuse but he said the judicial process was slow.


Impact of 20 years of war

on the Tamil children


Neither international outcry nor news in the international media



50,000 children out of school in the affected region


COLOMBO, 22 January 2004 - It is estimated that 50,000 children in the affected region are out of school, around 140,000 have been displaced from their homes while landmines have killed 20 and maimed 17 children in 2003 alone. In the North East there is a serious deficit of education and health staff. More than 5,800 additional Tamil medium and 200 Sinhala medium teachers are needed.


In 2003 ‘catch up’ education programmes reached 23,500 children, a total of 244 school buildings were refurbished and the recruitment of teachers to address the deficit has begun.

(Excerpt from UNICEF Press release)



Jaffna children suffer trauma

(BBC – 15 September 2000)


The most worrying aspect of the fighting for local people in Sri Lanka's northern Jaffna peninsula is the traumatic effect it has on children.


The incessant shelling and bombing of Tamil Tiger positions by helicopters and aircraft can be heard even in the relative safety of Jaffna town - still held by the government.


They have nightmares and end up screaming in the night Psychiatrist Daya Somasundaran said. The rest of the peninsula is under siege, and child psychiatrist, Professor Daya Somasundaran, says the constant bombardments are having a devastating effect on the mental state of children.


"For the last few months, I think this has now become the norm almost. The level of sound and level of destructive power has really escalated to an unbearable level," Professor Somasundaran says.


"Many of these helicopters actually fire from areas where civilians are so that you are really under the helicopter when it fires," he adds.


He says the trauma experienced by children takes many different forms, but will leave deep scars.



Mostly children killed

Associated Press Report, 18 March 1996 -
Seventeen Tamil civilians, mostly children and the aged were killed by Sri Lanka helicopter gun ships on 16 March 1996 in the village of Nachchikuda in the East. About sixty were seriously injured. The affected people had earlier fled Jaffna when their homes came under military attack during the time the Sri Lankan armed forces launched a military offensive to capture Jaffna from October 1995 to December 1995. Particulars of the 16 killed, released by official sources in Nachchikuda were:


Julian Delin (Baby Boy) 6 Month from Gurunagar; Kanthasamy Senthilkumar(Child) 09 from Koddady; Kanagasingam Tharsini (Child) 10 from Anaikoddai; Anton Mary Amalini (Child) 12 from Maniyan Thoddam; Anton Jegadeepa (Child) 12 from; Navanthurai Antonipillai Lawrencestayn (Child) 15 from Anaikoddai; Zavier Consal (Child) 15 from Navanthurai; Mahendiran Yalini (Girl) 18 from Navanthurai; Ponnambalam Selvarasa (Boy) 18 from Maniyan Thoddam; Soosaipillai Amalotpararani (Girl) 21 from Mathagal; Victor Lucia (Girl) 23 from Gurunagar and many other adults.






Navalay Church massacre


38 under aged Children killed, another 98 injured


On 9 July 1995, Sri Lanka Air Force bombed the St Peters Catholic church in Navaly. There were about 2000 internally displaced people have sought refugee in this church.


In this bombing 147 innocent people were killed and nearly 200 people were injured.



Name                              Sex     Age     Address

P. Balavalli                       F          13        Kantharodai, Chunnakam
S. Pratheesh                    M         16        Navaly North, Manipay
P. Ketheeswara                M         17        Vellantheru, Jaffna
R. Chithra                         F          15        Navaly South, Manipay
U. Satheeshkumar                       M         13        Nitsaman,Chankanai
U. Ushanthini                    F          12        Nitsaman,Chankanai
Jegatheesan Jeevadas    M         17        Navaly South, Manipay
Vethushan                                   M         12        Vellantheru, Jaffna
Dharshini                          F          14        Vellantheru, Jaffna
Piranavan                         M         05        Vellantheru, Jaffna
P. Mathivathana               F          12        Chullipuram West, Chullipuram
C. Thaceswary                  F          17        Chullipuram West, Chullipuram
S. Jeyabalini                     F          19        Chullipuram West, Chullipuram
Pirahatheepan                 M         07        Chullipuram West, Chullipuram
K. Kajanthan                    M         09        Chullipuram West, Chullipuram
V. Jeyanthan                    M         04        Chullipuram West, Chullipuram
S. Piratheepan                 M         13        Kuhanthiram valavu, manipay
K. Kailrajah                                  M         09        Murugan kovilady, Navaly
K. Vinoba                         F          05        Murugan kovilady, Navaly
R. Thanushala                  F          05        131 Mount Carmal Rd, Gurunagar, Jaffna
R. Sasikala                                   F          02        Kandy Road, Chavakachcheri
R. Chandrakanthan                      M         13        Navaly South, Manipay
P. Sutha                           F          11        Navaly South, Manipay
T. Nareshkumar                M         11        Navaly South, Manipay
P. Indrakumar                   M         15        Chulipuram West, Chulipuram
K. Thevachelvi                  F          10        Kaddupulam, Chulipuram
A. Yogeswaran                 F          16        Kapiranjoy Camp, Chunnakam
S. Gopikan                                   M         13        Uduvil, Chunnakam
N. Thevaganesh               M         15        Uyarapulam, Anaicoddai
V. Abirami                         F          10        Uyarapulam, Anaicoddai
K. Vasikaran                     M         10        Tholpuram, Chulipuram
B. Ananda Alagan                       M         16        Tholpuram, Chulipuram
T. Sujeeva                                   F          17        Navaly South, Manipay
P. Krishnakumar               M         01        Vadaliadaippu, Pandaththarippu
R. Rajamohan                  M         16        Araly South, Vaddukkodai
Child of Thevar                 F          10        Petnathy Road, Kokuvil
Child of Thevar                 F          07        Petnathy Road, Kokuvil
Child of Thevar                 F          05        Petnathy Road, Kokuvil
(Father S. Thevar (50) and his three daughters from Petnathy Road, Kokuvil)


What was the response of the Sri Lanka government and the human rights organisations based in G8 countries to these killings? Nothing.


In fact, the Sri Lanka government justified these killings.







Kumarapuram Massacre


13 under aged Tamil children killed


Sri-Lankan troops from the 57th mile post near kilivetti massacred 24 Tamil civilians and severely injured 28 others. Four succumbed to their injuries and later died in hospital. One of those killed was a heavily pregnant woman. 17 year old A. Thanalakshmi was gang raped by soldiers before being killed. Among those killed were seven children under the age of 12, the youngest being 3 years old. Troops had prevented the injured from being taken away for medical treatment until 9.30 the following morning.


Name                                        Age     Sex


Thurairajah Karunakaran                    15        M

Arumaidurai Santhyaluxmy                  15        F

Kanakarajah Subashinirajah               15        M

Vinayakamoorthy Suthahara              15        M

Ramajeyam Kamaleswar                     13        F

Thangavel Kala                                              12        F

Shanmuganathan Nizandan               11        M

Sundaralingam Prabaharan                11        M

Amirthalingam Rasanighandi              10        F

Theepan Patiny                                             09        F

Sivapakiyam Thiraiyampan                 06        F

Pakkkiyarajah Vasanthini                    06        F

Sundaralingam Subasini                     03        F


(Excerpt - February 1996, Sri-Lanka Monitor - British Refugee Council)


A school bombed in Jaffna - 42 children killed

On 22 September 1995, Nagerkovil Central School in the Jaffna peninsula was bombed. The intensified aerial bombing and shelling by Sri Lankan government forces came about within hours of the government's imposition of Press Censorship midnight September 21. The bombing of the school happened at12.50 p.m. during the school's lunch break when several of the school children were gathered under a shade tree in the school compound. 25 school going children were among 40 Tamil civilians killed on the spot.
Twelve were six and seven year olds. Nearly 200 others were injured, most of them students in the same school. Elsewhere in the area, 15 other civilians were also killed in the course of the same bombing raids. The scene of the attack was visited by the International Red Cross. Pieces of human flesh were strewn around the area including the tree branches, making identification impossible. The total death toll later increased to 71.


Earlier, on the same day, Pucara bombers targeted Manalkadu and Katkovalam in the Vadamardchi area killing six persons. A small Catholic church was also damaged in the bombing. In another incident in the early hours of the same day, intense shelling from the Palaly army camp killed seven members of the same family including four children of varying ages, The shelling began at 3.00 a.m. and continued until 7.00 a.m.


Medicines Sans Frontiers reported on 23 September that of 117 injured Tamil civilians admitted to hospital during the offensive on Thursday and Friday more than half had died from their wounds.


In a new offensive against Tamil rebels, Sri Lankan warplanes have bombed civilian targets, killing at least 42 children, an international relief agency said Saturday. The rebels issued a statement from London saying 71 people had died in the bombing campaign Thursday and Friday in the northern Jaffna Peninsula, the stronghold of Tamils fighting for independence.


Under strict new censorship rules imposed by the Sri Lankan government on Thursday, no information about the offensive was allowed to be published in that country. The Doctors Without Borders (Medicine Sans Frontier) relief group released a statement in Paris saying about 200 people were wounded when bombs fell on a school near Point Pedro on the northern coast Friday.


Of some 150 children who were wounded, 15 died within three hours of being brought to hospital, the relief agency said. It said 42 children have died at the hospital since Thursday, but did not say how the other children received fatal injuries. The main rebel group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, said 25 children were killed when the Nagerkoil Central School was bombed at lunch time Friday. More people were killed when planes bombed towns in the area, the rebel statement said. New censorship rules prohibit the publication or broadcast of information related to Sri Lanka's 12-year civil war without approval from a military censor." (Sri Lanka Bombs Civilians, 23 September 1995 13:46 The Associated Press) The British Refugee Council, Sri Lanka Monitor reported


Massacre of Tamil youths in a detention Centre

2nd November 2000


Dr. Brian Senewiratne,
MA(Cantab), MBBChir(Cantab), MD(Lond), FRCP(Lond), FRACP
Consultant Physician - Brisbane

Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine - University of Queensland, Brisbane. Australia


The massacre of 24 unarmed Tamil boys in a Rehabilitation Centre run by the Sri Lankan Government must arouse international condemnation. This is a gross violation of International law and International Covenants to which Sri Lanka is a signatory.


In accordance with International Law, authorities holding detainees are responsible for their safety and security at all times and in all circumstances. There are no exceptions.


A week ago, on 25 October 2000, Tamil boys aged between 14-23 were massacred by Sinhalese hoodlums at the Bindunuwewa Rehabilitation Centre, some 3 miles from Bandarawela town in the hill country of Sri Lanka. This Rehabilitation Centre is jointly run by President Kumaratunge's Presidential Secretariat, Child Protection Authority, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, National Youth Services Council and the Don Bosco Technical Centre.


The youths were detained under the notorious "Prevention of Terrorism Act", which breaches every international convention. A police unit and 12 home guards recruited from the neighbourhood were in charge of security. It is important to appreciate that the young detainees were being held without charge or trial. They had been demanding that charges be filed against them or that they be released. They were denied the judicial process to which they have a right under the U.N. International Convention on Civil and Political Rights to which Sri Lanka acceded in 1980.


Article 9 (2) states "that persons arrested should receive prompt notification of reasons for arrest and any charges made against them. Article 9 (3) states that they should be promptly brought before a judge and brought to trial or released.


At 5.30 am on the morning of 25 October 2000, 2000 Sinhalese thugs stormed the Rehabilitation Centre wielding knives, machetes, axes and iron rods.


They hacked to death some 24 detainees and set fire to the buildings. 16 detainees were seriously wounded and another 7 injured and twenty were missing. It is liked that the death toll will rise in view of the seriousness of the injuries and the refusal of the staff of the local Bandarawela hospital to treat the injured. The death toll has, in fact, already risen and currently stands at 29. It could rise further.

President Kumaratunge and her government must take full responsibility for yet another blot in Sri Lankan history.


The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, perhaps one of the most disgraceful and despicable Foreign Ministers we ever had, distributed large numbers of copies of the booklet “Impact of Armed Conflict on Children the Sri Lankan case”, to delegates at the International Conference on war affected children held in Winnipeg, Canada (September 10-17,2000)


If what we have seen in Bindunuwewa is the outcome of this “rehabilitation program”, the International Community must act. Or do we wait for the next massacre?


It would appear that all the talk of “safety and welfare of child soldiers”, “rehabilitation and reunification into society” etc., are fine words for international consumption and propaganda.

(The author is a physician of Sri Lankan origin, a Sinhalese, who now resides in Australia)

(Excerpt - Courtesy



136,000 IDPs are children in the North-East


The education and health of the children and young people in the North-East has suffered immensely as a result of Sri Lanka’s protracted conflict. In 2003, there was an estimated 50,000 children out of school in the North-East; 20 children killed by landmines; 17 children injured by landmines and 9,250 children in 48 registered homes and 55 in unregistered children’s homes. Of the 400,000 remaining IDPs in Sri Lanka, it is estimated that 34% (136,000) are children.


(Excerpt – Ministry of Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation of Sri Lanka -


270,000 displaced children


Access to education for the 270,000 displaced children is undermined by the recurrent nature of displacement itself, which make it difficult for regular school attendance. Other factors include malnutrition, poverty, lack of teachers and unavailability of schools, which are occupied by IDPs (Save the Children-UK, May 2000).


Call to increased action for Sri Lanka's war affected children


UNICEF, COLOMBO, 22 January 2004 -  It is estimated that 50,000 children in the affected region are out of school, around 140,000 have been displaced from their homes while landmines have killed 20 and maimed 17 children in 2003 alone. In the North East there is a serious deficit of education and health staff. (Excerpt -



Survey reveals alarming malnutrition in North East


Stripped from basic facilities such as clean water, hygienic food, a clean environment or basic medical facilities, the residents of the northeast have been battling high rates of malnutrition amongst their women and children for more than 20 years.


Speaking to the Sunday Leader, Director, UNWFP, Jeff Taft-Dick said that there were three groups of undernourished children in the northeast – those who were underweight, children who were stunted (low height for age) and children who were wasted (low weight for age). Taft-Dick said that while the national level of underweight children varied from 27% to 30%, the northeast recorded a stunning figure of 37%.


While the rate of wasted children island wide varied from 14% to 15%, the northeast recorded 22% and the national figure for stunted children stood at 15%. The north east recorded a figure of 18%.


"Malnutrition levels in the Mullaitivu District is on the rise and in some areas, the rates are so alarming that the percentage is over 40% which is scary", Taft Dick said. (Excerpts – Sunday Leader, 9 October 2005)


Out of 16,000 children, only a quarter found properly nourished


Peter Popham reports from Sri Lanka on the desperate plight of the hundreds of thousands of ordinary Tamils affected by the war in the north.


A recent survey of 16,000 children, found that only a quarter were properly nourished. More than a third were suffering from third-degree malnutrition, the level beyond which children exhibit distended stomachs and skinny frames. Anecdotal evidence suggests that small numbers of people have already died of starvation. (Excerpt – The Independent, 10 February 1998)


16% of tsunami affected children malnourished


Neglected by the authorities concerned, an alarming 16% of tsunami children have now been identified as suffering from high levels of malnutrition by UN agencies. (Excerpts – Sunday Leader, 17 July 2005)


Save the Tamil Children of Sri Lanka

by Joyce Muthuraj

Rapes of Teenage Tamil Girls


How many incidents of rapes of Tamil women by Sri Lankan soldiers and police were reported to the Sri Lankan government after he became the Sri Lankan foreign minister? How many of these incidents were teenage Tamil girls? How many of these raped women were murdered after the rape? How many soldiers and police were charged with these crimes? (Is it less than 5%?) Why only very few incidents, those that received international attention, resulted in filing charges? Can the Sri Lankan foreign minister explain why other incidents were just swept under the rug by the government? Is it true that those reporting rapes (rape victims' relatives) are sometimes tortured and murdered in cold blood within army barracks? Can the foreign minister deny that many of the rapes take place in army barracks? Can this happen without the knowledge of army officers? Can the Sri Lankan foreign minister cite one case, just one case that was filed because an army officer reported the rape or murder? The very few rapes that resulted in filing charges were the result of REPEATED requests by international relief agencies. The army's way of handling the situation is to restrict the international human rights agencies to enter Tamil areas under army control. Now that the Sri Lankan foreign minister is expressing concern about Tamil children to world leader, did he ever ask the Sri Lankan President to take action on each and every reported case of rape of Tamil teenage girls? Did President Kumaratunga refuse to do so? What was her explanation for the increasing number of teenage rapes and no action by the government?


Cold Blooded Murders of Tamil Children


Not counting Tamil children killed by Sri Lankan Air Force bombings and army shelling, how many Tamil children were killed in cold-blood by Sri Lankan soldiers and police by point blank shootings or by using knives and hatchets? How many cases were brought to the government's attention and in how many cases any action was taken? Is it less than 1%? Will the Sri Lankan foreign minister provide a list of such massacres reported by international human rights organizations and identify governmental action in each incidence, such as cases filed against the alleged murderers, disposition of the case, number of convictions and punishment? To our knowledge, not a single soldier or police is punished. (Excerpt - – Tamil Tribune, December 1997 – ID 1997-12-02)


Caring for the children affected by war


The Tamil diaspora and well-wishers fund the following homes for children who have lost their parents in the war. Visitors, including TCHR, have witnessed the immense efforts of staff in the homes to give the children a nurturing and loving environment, to ensure the children attend school and live in small home groups with a high ratio of adult carers to children.


Children Home                                                                                             Number of


Kurukulam Children’s home                                                                           500                

Senthalir Children’ Home                                                                               80

Kandaruban Arevucholai                                                                              227

Chencholai Children’s Home                                                                         250

Iniya Vazhvu Illam (children with visual and hearing difficulties)                                 260                

Malarcholai (Home for abandoned women and their children, 45 women)      34

Children home in Batticaloa                                                                          620

Gandhi Children Home                                                                                              247

Baharathy Children Home                                                                             169

Jayanthy Nagar Children Home                                                                                45

Puneetha Pummee Children Home                                                               120

Vivekanantha Children Home                                                                       35

Sakthi Mallar Children Home                                                                         38

Theruppalukammam Children                                                                       35

Katheroli Children Home                                                                               52

Maneekavasakar Children Home                                                                   35

(There are many other children home in the NorthEast)



Child soldiers


Security forces encourage 15 year old school children to join the army


"The security forces are campaigning in schools, to encourage 15 year old school children to join the army. When I comment on this, they call me a traitor. If it is so, is Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar also a traitor, who is campaigning in foreign countries saying that LTTE is recruiting children to their forces?", asked Opposition Leader Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe in the parliament on 7th May 1998.


He pointed out that the Army launched a campaign in schools to recruit school children into the army while Mr. Olara Otunnu, UN Special Representative on Children in Armed Conflict was visiting the country.


"Ranil Wickramasinghe says that Deputy Minister of Defence, Anuruddha Ratwatte has announced plans to recruit 15,000 school children in the Army to see that his image is not affected.


Doesn't the Opposition leader wish the troops of Operation Jayasikurui to advance towards Kilinochchi?", asked a minister at the press meeting held later.



Children under 18 in Home Guard duty and armed groups

aligned with the Sri Lanka government


The Coalition estimated that upwards of 75,000 children were fighting in governmental armed forces, paramilitary groups or militia and non-governmental armed groups throughout the region, some having been forcibly recruited. The worst affected countries had been Afghanistan, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.


….There is also evidence (in Sri Lanka) of children under 18 being engaged in Home Guard duty and by armed groups aligned with the government. (Excerpts from the speech made by Rory Mungoven, the Coalition's coordinator of the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers - ASIA-PACIFIC CONFERENCE ON THE USE OF CHILDREN AS SOLDIERS: Conference Report - 15-18 May 2000)



Sri Lanka military lists 70,369 soldiers as deserters

(Who replaced these deserters? Children from the South)


COLOMBO Friday 22 April 2005, Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka's military said Friday it has listed over 70,000 soldiers as deserters and appealed to them to get de-listed so they can lead a normal life and stop running from the law.


Brig. Daya Ratnayake said 80,661 soldiers deserted military ranks during the two decade war with Tamil Tiger rebels, which ended with a cease-fire in 2002.


The army launched its first major drive to delist the deserters in October 2003, but only 10,292 deserters responded.


"We appeal to all of them to come and start the process of de-listing,'' Ratnayake said of the new campaign that starts on May 9.

"The deserters will be given a chance to obtain a clearance certificate from the army to continue their livelihood as normal citizens of the country,'' he said.


Ratnayake said there has been a 70 percent drop in the number of deserters since the cease-fire. Sri Lankan media often carry reports of increasing involvement of army deserters in organized crime.

Sri Lanka, a small island country of 19 million people, has about 125,000 personnel in the armed forces. – (AP)




Child soldiers in the Sri Lanka military


After passing areas with many Army and Navy camps and sentry points, the condition of the road changed abruptly to that of a badly maintained road. We were told that we had just passed the town of Mathavachchy and had approached the outskirts of Vavuniya which is the border area of the Northern province, a Tamil dominated area. When passing Army camps and sentry points, we were able to observe many under-age government soldiers in the Sri Lankan army! Also we saw many home guards on duty at various check and sentry points.


Also there are many under age soldiers in the Jaffna peninsula, especially at the Palaly airport. These under aged were recruited with bogus birth certificates manipulated by the government from the Grama Seveka (local village leader) level. Under aged children with government help obtain bogus birth certificates from the government departments, showing them as over 18 years old.


When the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflicts (OP/AC) was being drawn up, Sri Lanka was one of the countries that worked hard to reduce the recruiting age to 16 for states. There were more than 100,000 army deserters in the Sri Lanka army and as not many recruits above the age of 18 came forward, the government was forced to recruit under age children. This was done with government sponsored bogus birth certificates. This is one of reasons that the optional protocol never provided for any Child soldiers being tested to find out their real age. (Excerpts from – TCHR mission report)



Child soldiers speak to the media

07 November 2005 - Two underage youths, Suresh Kandasamy (16) and Babu Selvam (15), and another foreign returnee Shanmugam Sarwarajah (21), recruited with promise of financial incentives by paramilitary Karuna Group surrendered to the Liberation Tigers and talked to media at Solaiyaham Conference Centre in the LTTE administrated area of the Batticaloa district. The cadres said they were under continuous monitoring by the Sri Lanka Army and decided to escape when they were sent on missions to attack LTTE posts.


Suresh and Selvam from the Tamil village of Karapola in the Polannaruwa district, were kidnapped by Karuna Group cadres in August of 2005. Suresh said, he was kept inside a bunker for six days by a key operative of the Karuna Group, Jim Kelly Thatha, at the Sri Lanka Army camp located in Kakachiaveddai. Suresh was promised Rs 6000 a month to work for the group.


Suresh said he was given training on operating guns at the Sri Lanka Army camp and was engaged in missions against the Tigers. A few days ago, Suresh surrended to the LTTE when he was sent with a pistol to gun down a person at Mandoor bridge, he said.


Selvam kidnapped by the paramilitary cadres riding in a Dolphin van was taken to a paramilitary camp in Thivuchenai, Welikanda, located close to a Sri Lanka Army base. He said the paramilitary cadres were also involved in robberies in Oddamavadi area in Valaichenai. He was also given 6000 rupees as salary. Selvam said he knew of at least seven Tamil youths who were brought to the camp and were killed there.


Shanmugam Sarwarajah (21) from Kokkaddicholai said Karuna operative Markkan convinced him to return from Qatar and join their group. According to Sarwarajah, there were at least 65 persons in the paramilitary camp in Thivuchenai where he was given training. He was also recruited for payment.


Sarwarajah said that after a month of training he was taken to Chenaipuram Sri Lanka Army base in Welikanda in a Buffel RPC vehicle and introduced to Capt. Kumarasinghe, the head of the base. The paramilitary group received supplies, instructions and was under complete supervision of the Sri Lanka Army, he added.










Paramilitary recruits underage boys


03 February 2006 - The paramilitary cadres, Karuna Group recruited a 15 year boy, Arulraj Senthilnathan from the village of Punnaichcholai in Batticaloa.


He said to the press in Batticaloa that while he was fishing in a river near his village, he was forcefully recruited by the paramilitary group known as Karuna Group in August, last year. He further said that he was trained in a Sri Lanka Army camp in Polannaruwa, to shoot and operate handguns. Here all well known paramilitary leaders, Tamils have trained him. There were about fifteen muslim youths among the trainees and there were Tamils with Indian accent. Totally there were about 70 under age youth in training.

Soon after the training he was posted to sentry points in the training camp. According to Senthilnathan this training camp is well protected with 200 Sri Lankan military soldiers and on the night Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham was murdered by the paramilitary forces, there were celebrations in this camp.


When he was sent on vacation, he managed to escape with his family into the area which is administrated by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam – LTTE.



Child soldier issue is prioritised

to cover up the horrendous violations


The accusation of child soldiers has ulterior political motives. This is obvious to anyone visiting Batticaloa. Every house in the Batticaloa district has a tragic tale to narrate. The horrendous massacres, rape, hacking to death, looting, arson etc were wide spread during the twenty years of war in the East. No one cared for those people. But the Child soldier issue is prioritised and put on the agenda with a political motive only to cover up the horrendous violations that took place in the East.


The problems faced by children are many in this world. The social and economic problems faced by the children are equally important to the issue of child soldiers. Child prostitution/pornography and child labour are rife in Sri Lanka and are totally ignored. According to the latest statistics there are about 40,000 child prostitutes in Sri Lanka.


The government of Sri Lanka, and a few local and international NGOs are raising the issue of recruiting child soldiers in Sri Lanka as a major violation of human rights. The international NGOs who are raising this issue say that they under an obligation because Sri Lanka has signed and ratified the CRC "Optional protocol on involvement of children in armed conflict - on Child Soldiers". Sri Lanka ratified this optional protocol within a month of signing the document.


Rights of the children cannot be selectively enforced. Every right mentioned in the CRC has to be considered seriously. In fact, there is a (CRC) "Optional protocol on sale of Children, child prostitution and child pornography". Sri Lanka signed this on the 8th May 2002 but has not ratified it. Why is there a delay in ratifying this optional protocol? Will this affect the tourist industry in Sri Lanka?


The 40,000 Child prostitutes in Sri Lanka has become a serious issue. Poor children in the South are forced to become ensnared in prostitution by the government. This violates all the international norms of conduct and human rights. This outrageous forced prostitution affects the children’s health and sanity.


Here the international NGOs have a great responsibility of lobbying the Sri Lanka government to ratify the Optional protocol of the CRC on the sale of Children, child prostitution and child pornography. This issue is also equally important to that of child soldiers. International NGOs should not be ignorant of this. (Excerpts from TCHR mission report November 2004)











"Decrease in recruitment and a rise in children being released"

UNICEF Spokesperson, Geoffrey Keele


"The government and the LTTE have to sit at the peace table soon and begin discussions before it is too late," UNICEF Spokesperson, Geoffrey Keele said.


However, Keele also added that due to the current situation in the north-east and the prevailing extreme poverty which many people face, the children saw the Tamil Tigers as the only saviours who would provide them help, an opinion shared by many humanitarian agencies working in the north-eastern theatre.


"What we have to understand is these areas do not offer these children any job opportunities and the economic development in the north-east very slow, unlike in the other parts of the country, where children have several opportunities for their future – these children have nothing," Keele said.


The UNICEF Spokesperson added that despite the growing political tensions between the government and the LTTE, both parties had to discuss peace based on humanitarian issues. "Since the ceasefire agreement, a lot of positive things have emerged and we have seen a decrease in recruitment and a rise in the number of children being released. Although, tensions are now increasing, it is never too late for both parties to begin discussing peace," Keele added. (Excerpts – Sunday Leader, 31 July 2005)


UNICEF expressed satisfaction

13 February 2006 - UNICEF representatives expressed satisfaction in the sharp decline of the number of under-age youths joining the ranks of the Liberation Tigers after the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, during a meeting held with the LTTE's Child Protection Unit at the LTTE Peace Secretariat building Sunday, LTTE officials said.


Both delegations acknowledged and appreciated the commitment shown by the other party in the protecting the rights of children, sources said.



Some of the many children released by the LTTE in 2004


                                   Date                           No. Children released        

                                   22/01/2004                             202                                     

                                   13/04/2004                           150                                     

                                   26//06/2004                            269                                     

                                   26/06/2004                             1,800                                     

                                   26/06/2004                             998

                     July 2004                               34                                     

                       August2004                                        24                                     

                                   09/09/2004                             449



Significant decrease in child recruitment


Since the ceasefire agreement in Sri Lanka in February 2002, a significant decrease in child recruitment by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has been reported, and a number of children have been released and returned to their families. UNICEF is now working with LTTE to help develop an action plan for the social reintegration of children still with them, including providing assistance for returning the children to school and accessing vocational training, as called for in the peace negotiations. UNICEF and the LTTE have also agreed to develop procedures for monitoring and preventing child recruitment in the future. (Excerpt from UNICEF Press release -


Kanuna’s cadre


COLOMBO, 16 April 2004 – UNICEF has confirmed the tragic deaths of two child soldiers in the LTTE fighting that took place in Sri Lanka’s east last week. The children were 17 and 18 year old girl. Both girls were in Kanuna’s cadre at the time of their death. (Excerpt from UNICEF Press release)



TCHR REPORT - December 2004


We met several representatives of civil society in Jaffna, parents and victims of war and others, especially to discuss the issue of child soldiers. We also witnessed many debates, arguments, eyewitness accounts, etc on the subject of child soldiers in Sri Lanka.


A civil society organisation in Jaffna gave us a list of 96 persons from the Jaffna district who said they had volunteered to join the LTTE between November 2002 and June 2003, but were sent back home by the LTTE on the grounds that they were not accepting any volunteers. (Please refer to -


According to the members of the civil society in the North East, the subject of Child soldiers was a one-sided story which has copious media coverage in the Colombo racist media.


According to some academics in Sri Lanka, this issue is taken up by organisations, which “do” human rights as “Business”. Such informed persons continue to say that “the more you pay, the more they exaggerate and highlight”. 


Residents of the North East complained that those who raised the Child soldiers issue now in Sri Lanka, never uttered a word about what really happened to the people, including the children, in the North East. They said fathers had either been killed or were in prison; mothers and sisters had been either raped or killed; houses and schools had been destroyed by aerial bombing or shelling and undamaged schools are still occupied by Sri Lanka soldiers.


Furthermore, an economic embargo had been imposed on the Tamil regions for more than a decade resulting in massive ongoing health problems and the conditions in which internally displaced people (IDPs) live are still deteriorating.


The government and some local NGOs are not bothered about what is happening to the Tamils in this country. But, they raise the child soldier issue to discredit the LTTE. They know very well that they can spread all sort of fictions against the LTTE and convince the international community, said a human rights activist DC in Colombo.


A school teacher LR told us "this UNICEF should have been active ten years ago in the North East. It is too late, after all the damages have been done successfully to the Tamil children, the Sri Lankan government has allowed the UNICEF and other institutions to talk about the child soldiers here". (Excerpt – TCHR mission report, December 2004)



Child soldiers, abusive child labour, child prostitution and

trafficking have similar root causes


Jo Becker of Human rights watch


Ms Becker said the Coalition recognized that the issue of child soldiers may be new for many participants. During the next few days, we would learn about the dimensions of the problem in this region and share relevant experience - both from this region and from other parts of the world – in order to identify possibilities for action. Although some participants may not have worked directly on the issue of child soldiers, they had very valuable experience to share from related areas, such as abusive child labour, child prostitution, and trafficking – all of which have similar root causes. (Excerpts from the speech made by Ms Jo Becker, the Steering Committee Chair of the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers - ASIA-PACIFIC CONFERENCE ON THE USE OF CHILDREN AS SOLDIERS: Conference Report - 15-18 May 2000)










Human Rights Watch and its report on Sri Lanka


Since (1983) the armed conflict started in the Tamil homeland between the Sri Lankan security forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) several reports have been published of fact finding missions made by some international organisations, UN Special Rapporteurs, UN Special representatives of the Secretary General and others.


All these reports contributed to an accepted understanding that the human rights situation for the Tamil people in the island of Sri Lanka was horrendous and serious. The first report was produced by the International Commission of Jurists - ICJ soon after the July 1983 communal riots in which Tamil people were butchered, properties were looted and destroyed, Tamil’s owned business enterprises were ransacked. Other reports of course were published after the ICJ report.


What was said by Jo Becker of Human Rights Watch (HRW) has not even been said by the President of Sri Lanka.


When we compare those reports with the report published on Sri Lanka by “Human Rights Watch” on 2 November 2004, one wonders whether the reports published earlier by other organisations were wrong. Also it makes one question the way, HRW is given publicity in various Western cities.


Is this a task or a programme of a Human Rights organisation? The recommendations in this report are puzzling. They raise questions as to whether HRW has changed it policy to carrying out political work.


Political lobby in Western cities


A political lobby in western cities including in London and Toronto was organised to promote the report. TCHR members were amongst the audience in the London meeting. With our wide experience in the field of human rights, it is our duty and our right to give an analysis of this report and its approach.


When we refer to many human rights reports we see that human rights organisations whether national or international, normally come out with their findings. Whatever they are, the recommendations always reflect the findings of the mission.


Usually the recommendations by a human rights organisation are based on the improvement of legal matters concerning the violating party. It may be government security forces or non state actors in UN terminology.


But here the recommendations are very different from that. When one analyses all the recommendations in this report, the political agenda becomes glaringly obvious.


Normally a human rights organisation will look into the law and see how certain articles are violated and in which area they have breached their international obligations. Their recommendations will then be based on these matters.


This report, initiated by Jo Becker is not one hundred percent, but two hundred percent anti LTTE. It is surprising that this report was so important at a time where the peace process was in stale-mate.


In this report, there is not a single word about the massacre that took place in Bindunuwewa where nearly 25 children and young people were butchered by Singhalese thugs with the help of Sri Lankan police.


We should not ignore the remark made by one of the Tamil parents attending the meeting in Toronto when the report was promoted: “So you think that you care more about our children than we ourselves do!”


The HRW report was published in November 2004 and never mentioned the alarming scale of the Child prostitutes issue in Sri Lanka despite the fact that HRW claims that it advocates for child rights.


Not even bothered about the Tsunami affected children – their dire food, shelter, clothing, health needs etc. Human rights watch never released any statement about the children suffering after the tsunami.


International organisations like Human rights watch are adding fuel to the fire of the ethnic conflict in by taking sides in the conflict in Sri Lanka. These organisations are obstacles for a peaceful negotiated settlement in Sri Lanka.


Two American kidnapped in Jaffna


During the period when Ronald Reagan was the President of USA (May 1984), two Americans known then as the Alan couple from Ohio in USA were kidnapped in Jaffna by the Douglas Devananda group. Presently Douglas Devananda is a minister in the present cabinet in Sri Lanka.


A person belonging to this anti LTTE group was given a platform in the London meeting organised by Human Rights Watch and Jo Becker. This person spoke in Tamil and the manipulated English translation was given to the English speaking participants. The Speech in Tamil and its English translation was not the same.




Child Soldiers and the Law

"A double standard is no legal standard - and cannot be passed of as such"
A Survey -  Nadesan Satyendra
15 November 2004


The Geneva Conventions Additional Protocols of 1977, imposed a minimum age of 15 for recruitment into the armed forces of a state. The same minimum age applied to recruitment by armed groups. The Geneva Conventions Protocols also required that children under the age of 15 should not be allowed to take part in direct hostilities.


Twelve years later in 1989, the  International Convention on the Rights of the Child reiterated the 15 year minimum age for recruitment. The Convention bound State Parties and made no reference to armed groups.


In 1998,  the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court provided, inter alia,  that the Court shall have jurisdiction in respect of war crimes and that a war crime would include 'conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years' into national armed forces or armed groups or using them to participate actively in hostilities. The Sierra Leone Special Court, Appeals Chamber in 2004 took the view that the Rome Statute simply codified that which was already 'customary international law'. 


In 1999  the  Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention was adopted by the International Labour Organisation. The convention provided, inter alia, that each Member which ratifies the Convention shall take immediate and effective measures to secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour as a matter of urgency. It also provided that 'for the purposes of this Convention', the term 'child' shall apply to all persons under the age of 18 and that the term “the worst forms of child labour” included 'forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict'.


In 2002 the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child provided that State Parties may not compulsorily recruit those under 18 years. However, the Optional Protocol retained 15 years as the minimum age for voluntary enlistment. In addition, schools operated by or under the control of the armed forces of the States Parties were excluded from the operation of Article 1 of the  Protocol.


States may 'advertise and market' their armed forces to 'persuade' those under 18 to enlist. It was reported in 2002 that  the US Army spent two years and more than $7-million to develop and implement a free Windows game as a recruiting tool targeted at teenagers. Again  "the key objective of the British ARMY Magazine is to encourage teenage boys and girls under the recruitment age of 16 to move from a simple 'interest' in the Army to a position where they actively consider a career."  (see also Child Soldiers? What Child Soldiers?)


The Optional Protocol  however provides a different standard for armed groups. The Protocol requires that armed groups may not 'under any circumstances', recruit persons under the age of 18 years.


Furthermore whilst the Optional Protocol requires that  States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that members of their armed forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take a direct part in hostilities, the Protocol requires of armed groups that they may not 'under any circumstances' use in hostilities, persons under the age of 18 years.


The Protocol provision relating to all 'feasible measures' was interpreted by the United Kingdom which ratified the convention in the following manner –


"The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will take all feasible measures to ensure that members of its armed forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take a direct part in hostilities.

The United Kingdom understands that article 1 of the Optional Protocol would not exclude the deployment of members of its armed forces under the age of 18 to take a direct part in hostilities where: -


a) there is a genuine military need to deploy their unit or ship to an area in which hostilities are taking place; and


b) by reason of the nature and urgency of the situation:-


i) it is not practicable to withdraw such persons before deployment; or

ii) to do so would undermine the operational effectiveness of their ship or unit, and thereby put at risk the successful completion of the military mission and/or the safety of other personnel."


Of course, armed groups  (not being parties to the Protocol) do not  have the right to 'ratify' the Protocol subject to 'declarations' and or 'reservations.' 


The short point is that the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 2002 applies a double standard - one for State Parties and another for armed groups. The Geneva Conventions Additional Protocol II, 1977 did not adopt a double standard. Neither did the  International Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989.  Nor for that matter did the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, 1998.  It appears that State parties to the Optional Protocol, (after perhaps September 11)  have found a common political interest in imposing more stringent conditions on armed groups than the State parties cared to impose on themselves.


Several questions arise here. Can State parties by a Treaty amongst themselves impose obligations on 'armed groups' engaged in a struggle for self determination and who reject the jurisdiction of the State which seeks to conquer and rule? Can State parties by a Treaty amongst themselves change that which was recognised as a rule of  'customary international law' by the Sierra Leone Special Court - Appeals Chamber?  Has the Optional Protocol which entered into force in 2002, crystallised into customary international law? 


It appears that the Protocol itself recognises that the terms in relation to armed groups are not 'directly applicable' and required that 'States Parties shall take all feasible measures to prevent such recruitment and use, including the adoption of legal measures necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices.' The Optional Protocol casts the  responsibility to enforce the terms in relation to armed groups on the State Parties.


There is also a further and important matter that must be addressed.


The obligations which the State Parties to the Optional Protocol have sought to impose on armed groups breaches the fundamental principle of equality before the law enshrined in all Human Rights instruments. Like has not been treated alike. A double standard is no legal standard - and cannot be passed of as such. Here, the comments of the International Red Cross in its Introduction to the Optional Protocol are not without relevance –


"..The ICRC welcomes the fact that the issue of non-state actors has been included in the Optional Protocol, but regrets that the provision imposes a moral, as opposed to a legal obligation. Although Article 4 also provides for criminal prosecution under domestic law, this is likely to be of limited effect, because those who take up arms against the lawful Government of a country already expose themselves to the most severe penalties of domestic law, and because the capacity of a Government to enforce its laws is often very limited in situations of non-international armed conflicts. Third, it is uncertain whether non-state actors will feel bound by a norm which is different from that imposed on States, and thus whether it will be respected..."



ICRC was right to point out that the Optional Protocol 'imposes a moral, as opposed to a legal obligation' on armed groups. However, the morality of the obligation itself is called in question by the double standard employed by the Optional Protocol.


It appears that therefore that the current situation in international law in relation to child soldiers may be summarised as follows:


1. Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years' into national armed forces or armed groups or using them to participate actively in hostilities is a war crime.


2. Conscripting or forcibly recruiting children under the age of eighteen years by State Parties or armed groups is a breach of the Optional Protocol to Child Convention.


3. All feasible measures shall be taken by State parties to ensure that members of their armed forces under the age of 18 years do not take a direct part in hostilities and failure to take such 'feasible' measures is a breach of the Optional Protocol to Child Convention.


4. Enlisting children under the age of 18 years by State Parties is not a breach of international law.


5. Enlisting children under the age of 18 years by armed groups is not a breach of the Optional Protocol, (and not by any means a 'war crime') though armed groups may have a 'moral obligation' to avoid doing so.


Having said that, it may be helpful to remind ourselves of the words of Dr Colin J Harvey, Assistant Director,

Human Rights Centre, School of Law, Queen's University of Belfast in September 2000:


"International law is political. There is no escape from contestation. Hard lessons indeed for lawyers who wish to escape the indeterminate nature of the political. For those willing to endorse this the opportunities are great. The focus then shifts to inter-disciplinarily and the horizontal networks which function in practice in ways rendered invisible by many standard accounts of law. This of course has important implications for how we conceive of law's role in ethnic conflict. We must abandon the myth that with law we enter the secure, stable and determinate. In reality we are simply engaged in another discursive political practice about how we should live..." (Courtesy –



Child Soldiers? What Child Soldiers?


UK Association of Publishers 2004 Award for  Most effective public sector title - Army Magazine, British Army Recruiting Group - Haymarket Customer Publishing


 "The key objective of ARMY Magazine is to encourage teenage boys and girls under the recruitment age of 16 to move from a simple 'interest' in the Army to a position where they actively consider a career...The judges felt that 'the magazine is clearly on brand and appropriate; it has very high production values and the back-up research results were impressive.'"



Uncle Sam wants you (to play) – 2002 Summer's hottest online game, America's Army, brought to you gratis by, well, America's Army


"It's nice to think that only this 18-year-old will look at this or play it at home. It doesn't happen that way," Merin said. "You're going to have brothers and sisters and cousins and other kids 11 and 12 and 13 years of age who can't process or truly understand the reasons for this, and do not truly appreciate the difference between reality and this type of fantasy..."



UK's Reservations to Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 2002


The United Kingdom understands that article 1 of the Optional Protocol would not exclude the deployment of members of its armed forces under the age of 18 to take a direct part in hostilities where: - a) there is a genuine military need... and ..



Recruitment of 16 and 17 year olds actually increasing in British army - BBC 12 June 2001


"The report notes that recruitment of 16- and 17-year-olds is actually increasing at a time when the British Army is finding it difficult to fill its ranks with older recruits. It says aggressive advertising campaigns and recruitment drives have helped boost the ranks of young soldiers..."



Britain says like any other employer it should be able to recruit people straight out of school


"..Campaigners also back a UN optional protocol to raise the minimum age to 18. They say younger people in the armed forces are too vulnerable. But the UK and many other nations, including America, reject the proposed limit. Britain says like any other employer it should be able to recruit people straight out of school, and they are all volunteers for a long-term career.."



British Army  opposes move to raise recruitment age from 16 to 18 - BBC  22 June 1998


"..the army describes the UN's initiative as "potentially disastrous".  "We lose the ability to attract the young individual at the appropriate time to a career of first choice. We are unable to offer those young people who want an army career the opportunity to have that career," said Brigadier Freddie Viggers, from Army Recruitment.." (Courtesy –



Child Recruitment

by K. Mylvaganam


In the Colombo-based newspapers the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are blamed for child recruitment, abduction and forcible conscription.  These newspapers never uttered a word when the EPRLF under the leadership of Varatharajaperumal,  aided and abetted by the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF), conducted  forcible conscription of children even of tender ages during 1985 to 1989.


UNICEF also has accused the Tigers for recruiting children under the age of 18. I live in Vanni and I do accept that there is some truth in the allegations made by UNICEF, but definitely not to the magnitude to which it is magnified and exaggerated by the Colombo press.


I worked for the North East Secretariat On Human Rights (NESOHR) for some time last year. During that time I did receive complaints from some parents that their children who were under 18 have been recruited by the LTTE. On receipt of such complaints we took up the matter with the LTTE and requested them to produce those children for verification.


Let me present here specifically some cases for the readers. Once there were five such complaints. A date was fixed for the parents and their children to be brought together in our office at Karadipoku,  Kilinochchi. A representative from the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), Mr. Lars Kjerland, invited by me was also present. I started to record the proceedings.


All those five children maintained that they were 18 and over, but the parents disputed their statements. None of the five recruits said that they were forcibly taken in by the LTTE.  They all joined voluntarily they said.  When I asked the parents for the birth certificates of their children, none of them were able to produce the certificates. All of them said that they got lost during the exodus in October 1995 when nearly 500,000 people had to move out of Jaffna.  That was a true statement. 


It is so difficult to judge the ages of these children as most of them are under nourished. Two of the children definitely looked to be under 18, hence I told those two that their parents are better judges of their ages and that they have to go with their parents. One of the youths agreed to my proposal without protest,  but the other one started to cry. He did not want to go with the mother. With a little more advice and persuasion, both by me and Lars, he agreed finally.


Out of the three left, two were girls. Both the girls and the boy adamantly refused to join the parents. The mother of one of the girls broke down and wept severely. Out of pity for her, I suggested that her daughter join the mother. She vehemently refused to accept my suggestion. When I tried to persuade a little more, she said "If you send me with my mother today I will go, but I will come back to join the LTTE next week."


The other two remaining maintained that they were not 18 but 19. One of them openly accused the father for his excessive drinking habits and beating the mother and her siblings. Hence I had to request the parents of those three to produce the birth certificates for us to do the needful. 


At this time, during the ceasefire, it is possible to obtain birth certificates at the Jaffna kachcheri (government office).  But the parents never turned up thereafter.


The first two youngsters and  their parents were taken to the office of UNICEF in Kilinochchi for the formal handing over.


This is the true situation prevailing here in Vanni.


Now let us take the whole of Sri Lanka into this perspective. With the LTTE there may be a few hundred who are under the age of 18. [The UN maintains the number is 1,500. -- Editor] This is not acceptable, but can be dealt with if everyone works together.


But what is happening in the South  of Sri Lanka?. A few months back the Sunday Leader published a photograph of a child 12 years old in camouflage uniform holding an AK47 riffle in his hand standing on sentry duty outside the base of a paramilitary group working in collaboration with the Sri Lankan army.


There are several thousand children under 15 who are abused for sexual needs. According to the National Child Protection Authority  (N.C.P.A.)   nine hundred thousand (900 000) children under 16 are employed in some form or other. Poverty at home has compelled their parents to send them for work. How many children are SOLD by the parents to brothels in the Colombo city and in its suburbs?


We see humpty number of children, most of them under ten years old, begging on the streets of Colombo, Kandy, Matara, Kurunagala and even in Vavuniya. You will also find them in the army controlled areas  of Jaffna and Batticaloa as well. The president of the N.C.P.A. Dr. Hiranthy Wijeyamanna said that most of the children begging on the roads of the big cities are under 8 years old. This is because people tend to pity the young ones and give more to them than to the older children. Hence those unscrupulous gangs who employ these children go for the very young ones, preferably the  handicapped ones. According to her some of these children may collect up to Rs.2000.00 a day. In the old days people gave 5 or 10 cents to the beggars. Now it is either Rs.5.00 or 10.00. But the children get only a few rupees and some food at the end of the day and the employer grabs the rest. These children are not provided any facilities either. They are continuously watched by the members of the gang that employs them. They sleep on pavements inhaling exhaust fumes emitted by the belching vehicles,  amid the stinking market garbage. I shudder to think what they do when it rains in the nights.


Some of these children are used by the drug barons as carriers of their contraband. It is an easy guess as to where such children will end finally - drug addicts and the crimes connected with it.


One always sees children hawking something or other at market places, roads, on temple premises, railway station and bus stands. They do not attend school.


Whilst condemning the parties, whoever they may be for recruiting under aged children to fight, why are all those international organisations, the SL government and the Colombo media who shout so much about the LTTE recruiting a few hundred children intentionally or otherwise, tight lipped when it comes to nearly a million children in the south who are  either begging or  under all sorts of employment for meagre wages.


In the LTTE controlled areas you cannot see a single beggar or even a child selling things, though these areas are the most poverty stricken places in Sri Lanka. The reason is that the children who do not have anyone to take care of them are looked after by the LTTE. These kids are put into homes meant for them. They are well looked after in those homes, not only by providing food and shelter but with LOVE. They are sent to ordinary schools just like any other children.


There are several homes in Vanni itself - Sencholai,  Kantharuban, Gurukulam  and Ilamthalir to mention a few. No one uses the terminology "Orphanage" here as the children are not considered orphans.


To cite one example, I visit Sencholai whenever I find the time. The lady in charge is called Janani, who was at the Jaffna university before she joined the movement. She is lovingly called ' Periyamma' [elder aunt] by the kids. Those under 7 or 8 are allowed to take turns in batches of four or five to sleep in her room. It is a great joy for them and they await for their turn anxiously. The youngest is only a few months old and the eldest is 22. It is like a family calling each other 'Akka' [big sister] or by name if the other one is younger. The caretakers are all 'Chithys.'


'The mentally retarded people are kept in a home of their own and nursed properly and given medical treatment. Psychiatrists and psychologists from among the Tamil Diaspora are taken there regularly to provide treatment and train the nurses and the local doctors.


Alternatively, disabled children (in Tamil Eelam  the word "Disabled" is not used) are kept separately in special homes. There are a good number of them who have lost some limb or hearing or eyesight due to the war. They are not only cared for and nursed, but are given the opportunity to learn things that they are interested in.  To begin with, it is compulsory that they follow the ordinary course of education until they pass the OL examination. Subsequently, depending on their ability and aptitude, they are offered courses in computing, masonry, carpentry, classical music, Baratha Natiyam,etc. I once attended a cultural night organised by them. Their performances were excellent. One girl who is completely blind performed Baratham comprising of Alarippu. Jatheeswaram and a Patham beautifully like a professional.


The Sinhala owned media and the Sinhalese political parties cry from the top of the roof about the "child recruitment" by the LTTE. But why are they so silent about the child abuses that is so prevalent in the Sinhala dominated areas where several hundred thousands of children are affected?


Before I conclude this article, I wonder whether it is correct to recruit under aged children into religious monasteries, a common practice within Buddhism. In the majority of the cases the children are taken in, of course, with the approval of the parents with a view to make them as Buddhist monks later. But is it proper to decide the future of a child at such a tender age without the consent of the child? Do not these children have the right to decide what they want to be when they are grown up?

(Courtesy -, January 27, 2006)


UNICEF and Underage Recruitment

by Jayantha Gnanakone



I certainly am glad that I have received a response from UNICEF on this issue. Now the whole Tamil diaspora and the UN can have a full discussion on the actual facts, fiction and the law on the issue of Geneva Convention Article 77, the Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and childrens' rights. As the UN, UNICEF, the ICRC and the US are very well aware, only the Geneva Conventions are international law, and the rest are wishful thinking for the future.


Shown the past good will of the LTTE towards UNICEF on the issue of underage children as combatants, if the UN and the International Community mandate the Optional Protocol as international law, I am certain LTTE would agree to cooperate with such laws. However, it also should be common courtesy for the UN to provide observer status to the LTTE.


Recruitment targeting teenagers

It has been unequivocally confirmed to me that the GoSL armed forces take their campaign to the villages to recruit Singhalese youth at 15. I am aware the US government targets children at 14 and 15 into paramilitary services to join the marines and other armed services units, known as the ROTC, with summer training of 4-8 weeks at Camp Pendleton. CA. There the kids receive different kinds of basic military training and, above all, receive thousands of dollars in cash for coming for training. They are constantly brainwashed about the benefits of joining the armed forces on a permanent basis and also promised tens of thousands of dollars in benefits for their college education, etc.


Don't you forget that I have two teenage children in an American high school and I am fully exposed to the armed forces recruiters visiting the high school targeting 15 -16 year olds. The US armed forces spend millions of dollars in their advertising budget (all 4 forces), targeting teenagers who are below 18.


Two sets of rules

To have two separate sets of rules, one for states which practice state terrorism, where they can recruit at 15 and above, and another for liberation organizations fighting a civil war for 3 decades against the government of GoSL and India with their meager resources and private funding, is nothing but an act of Hypocrisy, Chicanery and Dishonesty.


I believe that there will be presentations at the upcoming 62nd Session on human rights in Geneva on the legality and morality of non-state members being prevented from recruiting under 18s, when governments are allowed to recruit those over 15.


UN organizations which attempt to demonize the Tamils and the LTTE are very wrong. Where does the UN, which itself is engulfed in corruption, nepotism, wastage, and misappropriation, get its moral right to formulate laws which are not fair and just directed against liberation movements fighting State Terrorism, oppression, repression, and blatant discrimination?


May I ask you how many rapes, molestations, arrests, incidents of torture, beatings, shootings, shellings, bombings, incarcerations of under 18 children has UNICEF prevented in the last 23 years? Where were you and UNICEF when all the under 18s were and are victimized on a daily basis?


Where were they when the Bandaranayake-Kumaratunghe-Rajapakse regimes denied medicine, food, and fuel for the Tamil children for years during the embargo? The death and destruction, as well as untold suffering, is well documented and has been totally ignored by most INGOs, as well as foreign diplomats, for 22 years.


But the UN and UNICEF want to mandate unjust laws that would make it illegal, criminal for under 18 and over 15 children to participate in combat against such evil forces, but are unable to prevent children from all ages being barbarically brutalized by Sinhala racist mobs, sponsored by the government itself, and its armed forces.


Defence against state terror

Let me tell you that I, from when I was a child of 9 years old, have been a victim of state terror in 1956, 1958, 1961, 1977, and 1983. I could have been brutally murdered in any one of these years of state-sponsored terrorism and pogroms, and the UNICEF or UN would not have cared a damn.


The Tamils have picked up arms as an act of self-defence, so such laws formulated by corrupt and dishonest officials sitting in their ivory towers of New York, Geneva, London and Washington do not matter. The living conditions under State Terror, and Mob Terror are totally different from the sanguine conditions of children in world cities of New York, Geneva, London and Washington. The ground reality is totally different.


Other abuses of children's rights

As UNICEF professes genuine interest in all children, can you tell me why the UN and UNICEF have turned a blind eye and blatantly ignored the gross violations which are transpiring on an hourly basis in the Sinhala South? Since UNICEF when it is convenient plays deaf, dumb and blind like the proverbial monkeys - See no evil, Hear no evil, and Speak no evil...Let me detail such violations of over 200,000 children.


1. Child pornography

2. Child prostitution

3. Child labour and slavery

4. Child exposure to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases


Is this because the LTTE is an easy target and, if the above issues were raised more vigorously, UNICEF would not be welcomed so enthusiastically by the GoSL, whose permission the UN feels is necessary to operate on the island?


Let me tell you that Tamils are tired of this Hypocrisy, Dishonesty,  and Chicanery.


The UN and power

Diplomats speaking in Geneva or New York do so at the behest of powerful countries and their own political agenda. There is more to it than international law and human rights law on the issue of recruitment over 15 years and under 18.

I am a retired DC 8 pilot and I have seen air force fighter pilots being trained, after being recruited at 16. So trying to corner a liberation organization about the Optional Protocol/Geneva Convention rules is nothing but dubious. It is deliberately kept ambiguous for only one reason. That is to use and abuse it by the UN and powerful states  for their own advantage and convenience. That is pretty obvious.


My point is the law needs to be applied uniformly and universally.


Geopolitical interests

Additionally, why this issue of underage recruitment receives such priority, especially after one of the worst natural disasters in human history is mind boggling, when for the 5th year there has been no fighting in the Tamil homeland. Therefore, for the UN and UNICEF to concentrate their efforts so diligently and forcefully of the well-being of children above 15 and under 18 is nothing but suspicious. (Excerpts – Courtesy,






Princeton Prof. says 'no' to Sri Lanka Child Monks

Kyodo News


COLOMBO -- A campaign by Sri Lanka's prime minister to recruit 2,000 children into Buddhist monastic orders to cope with a shortage of monks has met criticism from a scholar who says child ordination is against Buddhist doctrine.


Gananath Obeyesekere, an anthropology professor at Princeton University, says the campaign targets children as young as 5 years even though Theravada Buddhism doctrine states that a boy must be at least 15 years of age to become a monk.


The Buddha himself ordained at just 5 years his only son Rahula, but this was regarded an exception rather than a rule, Obeyesekere said. After being rebuked for the act by his own father, the Buddha specified that one must not only have parental consent to ordain a child, but that the child must be 15 years of age. If not, the youth must have the ''physical maturity'' of a 15-year-old.


Sri Lanka's project to mass-recruit children into Buddhist orders disregards these considerations, says Obeyesekere, himself a Sri Lankan Buddhist.


Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake, who is also minister for Buddhist affairs, is the father of the campaign and is encouraging public donations for the endeavor.


The project includes sponsors for each novice monk and a monthly allowance drawn from a fund of contributions.

Reportedly, more than 1,000 people have already applied, although the final figure was not immediately known, nor was the breakdown of their ages.


The prime minister told reporters recently that he conceived the plan after receiving thousands of letters from senior Buddhist monks complaining, among other things, that fewer people were joining the clergy. This, he said, had even led to the closure of many temples around the country.


''I found there was a problem and this is the solution,'' he asserted. He believes his plan will strengthen Buddhism in the country and bolster the ranks of a clergy that was in danger of dying out.


But Obeyesekere, in his remarks published in the Colombo newspapers Sunday Island and the Daily News, says if more monks are needed for the orders, older people should be recruited as they are increasingly given to meditation and usually have a good knowledge of the Buddha teachings.


Most have meager pensions, so free monastic board and lodging would be added incentives, the scholar, who has written extensively on Buddhism, suggested.


But one major reason Obeyesekere opposes child recruitment is that the very young are vulnerable to sexual abuse, which he says is ''notoriously associated'' will all forms of institutionalized monasticism. The possibility of child abuse in Buddhist monasteries ''must be faced honestly and squarely,'' he stressed.


Unlike adult monks, children have little chance of resisting sexual advances, the professor added. ''Even the presence of guardians, or sponsors is not protection. How does the guardian inquire into such possibilities when the mere talk of homoerotic practices is taboo?,'' Obeyesekere asked.


He also asked why those promoting the campaign have not set an example by being ordained themselves or having their own children or grandchildren ordained.


The prime minister's office, however, reacted hotly to the criticism.


One of Wickramanayake's personal assistants said any opposition to the project ''was affiliated to a conspiracy to wipe Buddhism from the country.''


The prime minister has only the best of intentions, he said, on condition of anonymity, noting ordinations take place only with the consent of parents and high priests of the temples concerned and the scheme provides children with food, lodging and education that poverty may otherwise have denied them.







Almost every area of Government policy

affected children in some way

(Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations – 16 July 1999)


Almost every area of Government policy affected children in some way, Mr. Annan said; but children had no vote -- no say in the political process. It was up to adults to defend children's rights, knowing the terrible costs that society as a whole would pay if it failed to look after them. The whole future of the human race would be determined by how the world cared for its children today.


Mr. Annan then told the children in the audience not to wait until they had grown up -- they should learn their rights now and also should begin preparing for the time when they would have to protect the rights of their own children.




* * * * *



“No country or region is immune”

(UNICEF executive director Ann Veneman - Asia-Pacific human rights conference in Beijing)


“Children are forced into prostitution, begging and soliciting, labour on plantations and in mines, markets, factories and domestic work.”


In the Asia-Pacific region, especially in Southeast Asia, the sex trade is a major factor behind the smuggling of people. (30 August 2005)




* * * * *




Child prostitution and sexual exploitation are

rampant in many parts of the world


Address by Hon. David Kilgour- MP Edmonton Southeast and Secretary of State


Child prostitution and sexual exploitation are rampant in many parts of the world and is often fed by a sex tourism industry rooted in the so-called "developed world." Canada as worked hard at the United Nations to realize a Protocol to the Convention of the Rights of the Child, designed specifically to deal with this threat. It will require countries to criminalize activities associated with the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. It urges countries to extend their jurisdiction on such matters to acts committed by their citizens abroad. There should be no tolerance anywhere for such activities at home or abroad.


(The People’s Peace and Human Rights Conference - University of Alberta, Edmonton, May 7, 2000)