A fresh investigation on four missing children who according to a recent UN report was allegedly recruited by former TMVP member, Iniya Bharathi will recommence with immediate effect, the Foreign Ministry said
The report that was released this week by Under-Secretary-General, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy who stated that Bharathi had recruited or abducted a group of children between 2006 and 2009.
According to Coomaraswamy, with regard to TMVP, the total number of pending cases is 13 boys, including five who were recruited by Bharathi. Iniya Bharathi has been listed by the UN as among those who have recruited, killed or abused children.
The Foreign Ministry’s United Nations and Multi-Lateral Affairs Division, Director General, C.A. H. M Wijeyratne said the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) has been requested to conduct a new investigation on the matter. However he did not comment on whether there would be a separate investigation on Bharathi.
“During previous investigations we found that four underage children were recruited as has been reported by the UN but there was no clear evidence against Bharathi and therefore no action was taken at the time,” Wijeyratne said.
He said the UN first raised its concerns on Bharathi’s alleged child recruitment process in 2008 when a UN envoy visited Sri Lanka. Wijeyratne said that an investigation was carried out when the issue was raised by the UN at the time but that it was not fruitful.
He said however that fresh investigations will commence again. “If the UN expects us to inquire into the matter we have to respect that and fulfill our commitments,” he said.
Meanwhile NCPA Chairperson, Anoma Dissanayake said that the NCPA had been requested to relocate the four missing children who she said are not underage anymore as they are over 18 years of age. She said although NCPA was asked to investigate the missing children, the NCPA did not know of Iniya Bharathi’s possible involvement in the case. (Olindhi Jayasundere)