TCHR: Child Rights in Sri Lanka
An appeal and a report on "Child Rights in Sri Lanka" was submitted by TCHR to Mr. Manuel Rodriguez, the Chairperson of the 62nd session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. It was handed over on 27th March 2006 to Mr. Manuel Rodriguez, Ambassador of Peru to the UN office in Geneva.
Distinguished Sirs / Madams,
Since the TamilCentre for Human Rights (TCHR) was established, we have regularly submitted reports, statements and press releases on violations of human rights, especially on thematic issues. Child rights are no exception to this. We have defended the rights of children without discrimination – the fundamental rights of the child, rights affected by child labour, child prostitution and the issue of child soldiers.
International law enshrines standards for the protection of the rights of the child. The UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its optional protocols and other covenants and conventions contain crucial articles protecting these rights.
Out of one hundred and ninety-one member states in the United Nations, not many have signed and ratified all the conventions, covenants and optional protocols. Some have signed, with reservations to certain articles, but have never ratified, thereby preventing UN scrutiny.
Countries in conflict have their own political agenda with regard to child rights. They use certain instruments for their political lobby and ignore others. Thereby children's rights continue to be neglected in those countries.
As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, children's rights suffer pathetically at the hands of politicians. Instruments are used selectively and the international community, international NGOs, local NGOs and others are smartly manipulated by the government of Sri Lanka to promote its agenda.
A typical example of this are the two Optional Protocols (OP) to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC): (1) OP CRC on the involvement of children in armed conflicts (2) OP CRC on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Both optional protocols were adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession on 25 May 2000. Sri Lanka signed the first OP - on the involvement of children in armed conflict - on 21 August 2000 and ratified it on 08 September 2000, whereas the second OP – on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography – was signed on 08 May 2002, but has not yet been ratified.
When we look at the reality of the situation in Sri Lanka, it is very sad to note that Sri Lanka is known as a "Paradise for Paedophiles". According to media and NGOs, nearly 100,000 Children are involved in child prostitution in Sri Lanka. But there is no outcry by the government and some NGOs because this business generates massive income in foreign currency. Also, as this business is run by those who have strong links with senior government officials, the problem in not raised and pressure is not exerted on Sri Lanka to ratify the "Optional Protocol on Child Prostitution and Child Pornography".
The children in this business in the South, along the beaches, are badly affected by HIV and various venereal diseases. This situation has persisted in Sri Lanka for many years.
Another important children’s rights issue is Child Labour. According to various media and specialised organisations, it is estimated that there is a minimum of 150,000 child labourers in Sri Lanka.
At the same time, more than 110,000 Sri Lankan army deserters have caused another problem affecting children in the South. As the government did not find suitable replacements for these army deserters, the army started recruiting underage school children in the South with bogus birth certificates. It is important to note that, when the Optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflict was initiated, Sri Lanka was one of the countries which lobbied heavily for the recruiting age for the State to be fifteen years old.
The matter of the non-state party to the conflict recruiting those of the same age has been repeatedly and strongly raised by the international community, as a child soldier issue. Credible reports have announced that the recruiting has been stopped.
Thousands and thousands of children in the NorthEast have been affected by the war: those who have been displaced, missed their schooling, suffered malnutrition, been traumatised by bombings and shellings, lost their parents, maimed by land-mines, disabled. Most of those still living are in Children’s homes and receive no government help. These well-run children’s homes are helped purely by the Tamil diaspora.
These figures and facts have been systematically hidden from the international community by the government Sri Lanka. The attached report gives facts and figures on child rights in Sri Lanka.
We respectfully urge you, the Chair and distinguished members and delegates of the Commission, to seriously consider our appeal, and to take strong and immediate action. We kindly request you to urge the Sri Lanka government to sign and ratify the CRC’s Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. We recommend that the Special Rapporteur with that mandate carry out a field mission to Sri Lanka and report on the situation.
S. V. Kirubaharan
General Secretary, TCHR
Contents of the Report --- [mostly document-based]
Rights of the Child
Rights of the child in International Law
The Sri Lanka government’s stance
Optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflicts (OP/AC)
Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation
100,000 children aged 6 to 14 kept in brothels in Sri Lanka
10,000 to 12,000 children are being prostituted in Sri Lanka
60 per cent of youth are drug addicts
Child Trafficking and Child Labour in Sri Lanka
Between 250,000 and 500,000 child labourers in Sri Lanka
150,000 children employed as servants
Trafficking in Persons
More than 500 children missing after Tsunami
Women, children sexually abused after tsunami
UN Special Rapporteur on Children
Child Abuse and Child Prostitution in Sri Lanka
10,000 Child prostitutes in Sri Lanka
20,000 to 30,000 Child prostitutes in Sri Lanka
Youth prostitution on the rise
Complaints of sexual offences against children received by police
One out of 10 children sexually abused
Child abuser's sex activities confirmed
Sri Lanka, hotbed for sexual exploitation of children
Sri Lanka notorious destination for homosexual paedophiles
40,000 child prostitutes, more than half of them boys
Beach boys –carriers of HIV/AIDS
Fighting child prostitution in Sri Lanka
Sickening - News of the World investigated
Rapists, abusers prey on disaster victims
Tsunami Unexpectedly Aids Child Sex Trade
Many Children still abused and neglected in Sri Lanka
Stemming child sexual abuse: NCPA's role
US State Department – Country Report 2002, 2004 & 2005
2,070 complaints of violent crimes against children
2,000 child prostitutes in the country
7,000 boys aged 15-18 years are self-employed prostitutes
BBC World Service
'100 kids abused daily' in Sri Lanka
The year the children suffered
Sri Lanka 'Child abuse' arrests
Impact of 20 Years of War on Tamil Children
50,000 children out of school in the affected region
Jaffna children suffer trauma – BBC
Mostly children killed
Navalay Church massacre
A school bombed in Jaffna - 42 children killed
Massacre of Tamil youths in a detention Centre
136,000 IDPs are children in the North-East
270,000 displaced children
Call to increased action for Sri Lanka's war affected children
Survey reveals alarming malnutrition in North East
Out of 16,000 children, only a quarter found properly nourished
16% of tsunami affected children malnourished
Save the Tamil Children of Sri Lanka
Caring for the children affected by war
Security forces encourage 15 year old children to join the army
Children under 18 in Home Guard duty and armed groups
Sri Lanka military lists 70,369 soldiers as deserters
Child soldiers in the Sri Lanka military
Child soldiers speak to the media
Paramilitary recruits underage boys
Child soldier issue is prioritised
"Decrease in recruitment and a rise in children being released"
UNICEF expressed satisfaction
Some of the many children released
Significant decrease in child recruitment
TCHR report Dec 2004
Child soldiers, labour, prostitution and trafficking have similar causes
Human Rights Watch and its report on Sri Lanka
Political lobby in the Western cities
Two Americans kidnapped in Jaffna
Child Soldiers and the Law - A Survey - Mr. Nadesan Satyendra
Child Soldiers? What Child Soldiers?
UNICEF and Underage Recruitment
Princeton Prof. says 'no' to Sri Lanka Child Monks