[JURIST] Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse [official website] has agreed to investigate [press release] allegations that government forces and the rebel group Karuna [Wikipedia backgrounder] has been using children in its fights against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [faction website; CFR backgrounder], or the "Tamil Tigers," a UN representative said Monday. Allan Rock [official profile], special advisor to the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict on Sri Lanka [JURIST news archive], spent 10 days in Sri Lanka investigating [UN press release] reports that Karuna has been abducting children. Rock said there was direct evidence that the allegations were true and accused the country's military of participating in some form. CBC News has more.
The Sri Lanka Army [official website] responded Monday by issuing a statement [text] saying the allegations "deserve a deep sense of revulsion" and called the probe "misleading." The separatist Tamil Tigers have also denied recruiting children to fight [Wikipedia backgrounder] and maintain that any underage soldiers lied about their ages in order to join, promising to remove all children from their ranks by January 1, 2007. UNICEF [official website], which has previously accused the Tigers of illegally recruiting child soldiers [JURIST report], has said that the Tigers have nearly 1,600 underage soldiers, while the Karuna group has recruited 142 children. Last year, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution [PDF text; JURIST report] allowing the UN to monitor governments and rebel organizations that abuse children in any way or recruit children as soldiers. Reuters has more.