Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers make fresh pledge to free child soldiers

June 18, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tiger rebels on Monday made a fresh pledge to rid their ranks of child soldiers by the end of the year. The rebels, classified as one of the worst offenders in the world for the recruitment of children to fight, made the same promise in 1998 but have since been accused by the United Nations of recruiting more than they actually freed.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said in a statement that its “Child Protection Agency” had freed 135 males and females below the age of 17 who were found within their guerrilla army in the past six months.

“The CPA hopes that the work that has been done and the work that is ongoing will … (bring the) recruitment for the LTTE to international standards by the end of 2007,” the Tamil Tigers said.

The rebels also asked the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF to adjust its child recruitment database to take into account the latest batch of child soldiers to be released.

There was no immediate reaction from UNICEF to the LTTE statement, but the agency says on its website that there were 1,591 outstanding cases of underage recruitment by the reb