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Sri Lanka's Genocidal War - '95 to '01
Amnesty campaigns against 'disappearance' of children
"No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or
- Article 37(b), Convention on the Rights of the Child
Amnesty International in its "South Asia:Action for Children" campaign launched on 22 April 1998, campaigned against the 'disappearance' of children after being detained by Sri Lanka's security forces. The campaign statement declared:
"Natkunasingam Sivathisini, a three year old girl. and Venuraj, her four month old brother have not been seen since 9 September 1990. when they were detained from their village by soldiers front the Boys Town Army Camp. Sixty eight Tamil children "disappeared" after being detained on that day in Batticaloa with members of their families.
It is feared that they were subsequently extra judicially executed. As of March 1998 no one has been prosecuted for their "disappearance".
Scores of children, aged between several months and 17 years, are among the thousands of people who are reported to have 'disappeared" after detention by security forces and members of armed groups engaged in hostilities, during the last 15 years of civil conflict in Sri Lanka.
Many who subsequently ' disappeared ', were arrested arbitrarily: for example Pranaban Kumarasamy 16, was arrested in September 1996 after he made enquiries about the 'disappearance" of his sister Krishanthy Kumarasamy, 1 8 at the same military check-point where she had been arrested. A large number of children who have "disappeared are feared to have been tortured in custody and extra judicially executed. Pranaban Kumarasamy's dead body was found several weeks later in a shallow grave, together with that of his sister, mother and neighbour. The trial of those suspected of their murder is continuing.
Children continue to 'disappear" in the custody of agents of the state in the north and east of the country. For example, the relatives of Jeganathan Janagan, a 17-year-old student, have not seen him since he was taken from his home at Nallur, Jaffna at around 2 a.m on 14 July 1996. by soldiers suspected of being attached to the Kailasa Pillayar Kovil army camp.
In recent years, as a result of considerable pressure from relatives of the "disappeared", and local non-governmental organisations, investigations have been opened into "disappearances". Three presidential commissions set up in late 1994 recently completed investigations of 'disappearances" reported since 1988.
While some members of the security forces have been prosecuted for their part in "disappearing" children and adults, the proceedings have either not reached a conviction or have continued for years without a conclusion. To this date no judgement has been passed in a court of law against those suspected to have perpetrated these grave human rights violations.
It is hoped that the government will act on its promise to bring to justice those officials against whom there is strong evidence of involvement in "disappearances".
The government must make clear to state officials that they are bound in their duties to safeguard the rights of children, and that past, present and future violations of these rights will not go unpunished. (Amnesty International Appeal - Sri Lanka: Children "Disappeared" AI Index ASA 04/03/98)