Rights report slams Sri Lanka over child soldiers

Jan 24, 2007 (AFP) – A leading human rights group Wednesday slammed Sri Lanka for conscripting hundreds of child soldiers to fight against Tamil rebels, saying the police had turned a blind eye to the practice for years. New-York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the government of “hypocrisy”, saying in a 100-page report that Colombo was guilty of the same practice for which it had denounced the Tamil Tigers.

“After years of condemning child recruitment by the Tamil Tigers, the (the Sri Lankan) government is now complicit in the same crimes,” said HRW child rights advocate Jo Becker in a statement.

The rights group confirmed a United Nations charge in November that Sri Lankan forces were collaborating with a breakaway faction of the Tamil Tigers known as the “Karuna group” in rounding up youngsters to be enlisted.

“The government’s collusion on child abductions by the Karuna group highlights its hypocrisy,” Becker said.

HRW said its charges were backed with case studies, maps and photographs showing how government forces helped the Karuna faction recruit boys as combatants.

“It (the evidence) shows how Karuna cadres operate with impunity in government-controlled areas, abducting boys an