February 19, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka said Friday it plans to release all detained Tamil Tiger child soldiers by the end of May and re-unite them with their families.
Government forces defeated the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May last year, ending their 37-year fight for a Tamil homeland in the north of the country.
Over 500 child soldiers surrendered to the army and were produced before a court before being enlisted in a one-year rehabilitation programme.
“Their training programme ends on May 22nd and we are taking steps to release all of them to their families,” National Child Protection Chairman, Jagath Wellawatte said.
He said families could apply to the court to enable their children to remain in government care, allowing them to continue schooling or vocational training if they desired.
Over 200 children are currently studying in Colombo, while almost 300 are being trained in a range of professions including hairdressing, carpentry, and plumbing in the northern town of Vavuniya, according to the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation, Brigadier Sudantha Ranasinghe. He said around 12,000 Tiger rebels surrendered to sec