LTTE adopts UN policy on recruitment

[TamilNet, Monday, 24 June 2002, 08:00 GMT]
The Liberation Tigers have set the minimum age for recruitment to their organisation at 18, the head of the movement's political section, Mr.S.P.Thamilchelvan, said last week. The LTTE made the policy decision following the adoption by the United Nations of a treaty on recruitment earlier this year, LTTE sources told TamilNet Sunday.

Mr. Thamilchelvan gave an assurance that the LTTE only recruits youth aged 18 or above to a delegation from Amnesty International which he met in Vanni on June 19, the sources said.

thamilchelvan_4-p.jpg
Mr. Thamilchelvan, the head of the LTTE's political wing. (Photo: TamilNet)
The few members of the LTTE who are below 18 years of age at the time of adoption of the new policy had been returned to the custody of their parents or guardians and written statements of confirmation had been obtained from the latter, Mr. Thamilchelvan told the Amnesty team during their 3-hour meeting.

The LTTE's new policies on recruitment would be clarified to the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Mr. Olara Otonnu, who is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka in August, the sources said.

In discussions with Amnesty International on the rights of children and armed conflict, the LTTE had pointed out that it was maintaining a number of child welfare centres in the war-devastated north and east and had complained that international humanitarian organisations were ignoring the plight of the youngsters, the sources said.

The LTTE had urged the Amnesty delegation to visit these welfare centres, the sources said. However, the Amnesty team was not able to do so, the sources added.

When Mr. Otonnu had visited the Vanni in 1998 and met senior LTTE leaders, he had been appraised of the plight of large numbers of war-affected children being looked after in welfare centres in the Vanni, the sources said.

The UN official had urged UN organisations operating in the region to visit the locations and provide assistance, but none of the sites were subsequently visited by UN agency staff, the sources said.

During its visit last week, the Amnesty delegation - which comprised Derek Evans, Claude Bruederlein, and Ingrid Massage - also met Mr. Balasingham Mahendran (Nadesan), the head of the Tamil Eelam Police Service, and Mr.Pararajasingham, head of the Tamil Eelam Judiciary, the sources said. The Amnesty team also met some civil society groups in the Vanni, the sources said.

Derek Evans, a former Deputy Secretary General of Amnesty International, is currently working in the areas of leadership development, reconciliation and conflict resolution. Claude Bruederlein, former ICRC delegate and adviser to the UN on humanitarian affairs, is currently Program Director at the Harvard School of Public Health and Lecturer at the Harvard Law School. Ingrid Massage is a researcher on Sri Lanka at Amnesty's International Secretariat.

 

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