Sri Lanka must act decisively to stop torture and investigate complaints and hold perpetrators accountable, Amnesty International said today after a UN watchdog expressed alarm over the country’s failure to prevent ill-treatment of people by security forces.
“If the Sri Lankan authorities are serious about breaking with the harrowing legacy of the country’s decades-long conflict, it must end impunity for torture and other acts of ill-treatment,” Champa Patel, Amnesty Internationals (AI) South Asia Director said in a statement.
Sri Lanka has taken important and positive steps. However, we also share the UN Committee against Tortures (UN CAT) alarm over Sri Lankas failure to prevent these crimes by the security forces and their concern that torture and other ill-treatment continue to take place.
Impunity persists for perpetrators, as well as for those who have committed enforced disappearances, and deaths in custody and the use of coerced confessions continue to be reported.
The UN CAT said that the 26-year-long internal armed conflict continues to cast a long shadow over the country.
Despite promises, the authorities have failed to investigate serious human rights violations committed during the armed conflict.
The Amnesty said it shared CAT assertion that torture by police remains a common practice, with the absence of crucial safeguards in detention facilitating such abuse.
Commenting on several specified cases of rights violations, the AI said that the Sri Lankan government has previously made a commitment to address the widespread human rights violations that occurred during Sri Lanka’s armed conflict and in its immediate aftermath.
But it has yet to lend those words substance by establishing the promised institutions, such as a judicial mechanism with a Special Counsel, a commission for truth, justice, reconciliation and non-Recurrence, and an office for reparations, it said.
The Sri Lankan authorities need to match their words with actions, it added.
The Committee against Torture has made a series of recommendations that should be acted on immediately.
Safeguards should be put in place. Security forces have to know that torture and other ill-treatment will not be tolerated and that any survivors must obtain redress, the statement said. (Business Standard)