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Sri Lanka says all former child soldiers freed

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Sri Lanka says all former child soldiers freed
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Colombo: The Sri Lankan government Friday said that all former Tamil Tiger child soldiers who underwent rehabilitation after being arrested have been freed.

Plantation Industries Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, who is the special envoy of the president on human rights, said that of about 12,000 Tamil Tiger suspects arrested and being rehabilitated as of Oct 1 this year, 10,985 former rebels including 594 former child soldiers have been rehabilitated and reintegrated into society, reported Xinhua.

"Not a single child combatant remains in rehabilitative care or legal custody today," the external affairs ministry quoted Samarasinghe as saying.

He said the government adhered to a policy of not subjecting ex-combatant children to legal proceedings based on the rationale that they were victims and not perpetrators.

Samarasinghe also said that all child soldiers released were afforded the opportunity of a formal education and that they were reunited with their families.

Sri Lanka fought a 30-year war against the rebels and eventually won the war in May 2009.

Samarasinghe said that 212 former combatants, who were previously pursuing tertiary education were re-inducted into the university system to follow their undergraduate studies.

"We note with pleasure that Sri Lanka has now been delisted by the UN Secretary-General from Annex II of the UN Security Council Resolution 1612, on Children and Armed Conflict."

"This is a result of the efforts taken by the government of Sri Lanka to inquire into several cases on child recruitment and comply with the recommendations of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and those of the UNSG's Special Representative," he said.

IANS

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