Sri Lanka’s children have been embroiled in a brutal armed conflict which has killed more than 67,000 civilians in the last two decades and caused untold suffering among the Sri Lankan population. Gross human rights violations committed by Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) forces, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and armed breakaway groups, like the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP)/Karuna faction, have created a climate of constant fear and insecurity throughout the country.

Both the GoSL and the LTTE have restricted or denied the delivery of vital humanitarian aid to the Jaffna peninsula and the Vanni area in the North, certain areas in the East and GoSL-declared high security zones. Adding to considerable bureaucratic barriers, humanitarian and human rights workers have been increasingly harassed, threatened and even killed while carrying out their lifesaving work. Additionally, restrictions on the movement of civilians have exacerbated the humanitarian crisis by preventing civilians from escaping into safety or seeking assistance. Perpetrators commit violations against children and other civilians with impunity. Today, the establishment of an independent human rights monitoring system is more critical than ever since the recent dissolution of the cease-fire agreement and the subsequent withdrawal of the Nordic-led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM).

Children throughout Sri Lanka face a broad spectrum of violations against their security and rights, perpetrated by various armed forces and groups. In this report, Watchlist illustrates this situation and provides practical recommendations for urgent actions needed to protect Sri Lankan children.