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Rights group urges investigation of child conscription in Sri Lanka

[JURIST] Sri Lanka is "complicit or willfully blind" to the child conscription efforts of the rebel group Karuna [Wikipedia backgrounder], according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report [text; press release] published Wednesday that alleges the government has helped Karuna abduct children to fight against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [faction website; CFR backgrounder], also known as the "Tamil Tigers." The report alleges the Karuna group has "abducted and forcibly recruited" at least 200 Tamil children throughout 2006, and that the government has not seriously investigated kidnapping reports or made a significant effort to prevent them from happening. The report notes that in November, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse [official website] agreed to investigate [press release] the allegations, but argues that the government has an overriding interest to strengthen an opponent of the Tamil Tigers.

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. The HRW report urges the Security Council to implement the resolution by insisting that Karuna "immediately adopt and implement an action plan to end all recruitment and use of child soldiers." AP has more.

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