Two months after the UN sent retired Major General Patrick Cammaert to Sri Lanka, his report on Children and Armed Conflict in Sri Lanka was presented to a sub-committee of the UN Security Council, in a closed meeting in the UN basement, the Inner City Press website reported.
According to Inner City Press, the report notes among other things the re-recruitment of children by a "commander named Iniya Barrathi who was part of the TMVP breakaway faction under Karuna's leadership." Cammaert recommends that that government take action.
Inner City Press said it had obtained a copy of the report and posted it on the website. (see full report http://www.innercitypress.com/sri1caac.pdf)
In his report Cammaert says "I learned during my stay in Batticoloa that there are a number of reports of recruitment of children and threats of re-recruitment of children in Ampara district in the Eastern Province by a commander’ named Iniya Barrathi who was part of the ‘I’MVP breakaway faction under Karuna’s leadership. I was alarmed when I heard that some children from Ampara district, currently undergoing re-integration assistance and skills training, felt it was un-safe to return to Ampara upon completion of their training, as they feared re-recruitment and further abuse by “commander” Barrathi.
I raised this issue with Mr. Karuna, who was appointed Minister of National Integration in March 2009. He stated that he was aware of the situation and that he had urged “commander” Barrathi to stop recruiting. Karuna expressed frustration over the commander’s behavior. He stated that he had already informed “commander” Barrathi that, should he continue, the police would intervene, as under-age recruitment is a criminal offence in Sri Lanka.
I raised the issue also in my meeting with the Minister of Justice and the Secretary Justice. I made it clear that if “commander”. Barrathi did not immediately cease recruiting and harassing children, he would be in clear violation of the Government of Sri Lanka’s “zero tolerance” policy regarding child recruitment and use. They promised that they would follow up on this ease. This needs to be monitored closely. as it would be difficult to foresee an effective conclusion of the TMVP Action Plan without a halt to all new recruitments and threats of recruitment by this commander or other rogue commanders".
When contacted by Daily Mirror online Barrathi rejected the claims and said the report was misleading and baseless. He however did concede that Minister Karuna Amman had contacted him over the claims as mentioned in the report. However an attempt to get further clarification on the report from Barrathi failed as he refused to comment. (JN)