(The Sunday Times) – The origin of rights based services for Sri Lankan children began soon after independence…Although Sri Lanka observed the optional protocol to the CRC on children affected by the armed conflict, and did not recruit any person under the age of 18 years to their security forces, non-state parties did recruit child soldiers, both boys and girls, between the ages of 10 and 18 years. On their insistence, it was excluded as an agenda item in peace negotiations and peace accords, including the last one brokered by Norway. But one of the most significant characteristics of Sri Lanka’s conflict was the use of child soldiers by non-state parties for combat and other military duties. This occurred with impunity during 26 years of the conflict. Efforts by several UN Special Rapporteurs and humanitarian agencies including UNICEF, were unable to influence a change. The forcible recruitment of children as combatants occurred through kidnapping, coercion of families, indoctrination in schools and abductions. Many of these children lost their lives, their childhood and their families. They became disabled and were traumatized. It was estimated that more than 60 per cent of the fighting cadres of all non-state parties to the conflict, were children under 18. Some children who did manage to escape to the government side were afforded rehabilitation and reintegration services, and were reunited with their families. The Office of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation was established in 2006 through a special gazette issued by the President’s Office specifically for such children. It functioned under the Secretary, Ministry of Justice, and was supported by UNICEF and other humanitarian agencies. The heinous crime of child recruitment only ceased when the conflict ended in May 2009. No child soldier was indicted for any crimes they committed.