Amnesty submits two reports on Lanka to UN

The London based Human Rights group Amnesty International (AI)has submitted two reports on Sri Lanka to the UN Human Rights Council.

One report has been submitted for the June session of the UN Human Rights Council and the other for the October/November periodic review on Sri Lanka at the Council.

In the report for the Universal Periodic Review AI notes that the government has yet to repeal the anti-terrorism legislation which is used to justify abusive detention practices and yet to introduce witness protection legislation to address the general lack of accountability for human rights violations. Moreover, the government has not taken any measures to strengthen the capacity and ensure the independence of the National Human Rights Commission, adding to the culture of impunity in the country.

Amnesty International is also concerned at the ongoing use of arbitrary detention as a tool of law enforcement targeting members of armed groups, political opponents and journalists. Amnesty International continues to receive reports of cases of enforced disappearance, torture and ill-treatment and extrajudicial execution and the failure of the authorities to investigate and punish the perpetrators of such gross human rights violations.

Amnesty International says it continues to receive reports from survivors that torture and other cruel inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment of detainees remain common and widespread in Sri Lanka despite laws that prohibit torture and ill-treatment. Legal and procedural shortcomings contribute to this failure, as does the lack of political will on the part of the authorities to eradicate the use of torture and other ill-treatment and to bring those responsible to justice in fair trials. During the previous review, Sri Lanka supported a recommendation to implement the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on torture after his mission to Sri Lanka in October 2007.

These included legal and practical reform aimed at preventing torture and ill-treatment, investigating and prosecuting such complaints and caring for victims, Amnesty said.

In the report to the June Human Rights Council session AI says the UN must be prepared to act independently to end the cycle of impunity in Sri Lanka if the Government of Sri Lanka fails to do so.

“To date, Sri Lanka has not demonstrated that it has either the capacity or the political will to adequately account for alleged war crimes committed in the last stages of the armed conflict with the LTTE,” Amnesty said.

Amnesty International remains convinced that only an impartial international investigation into allegations of crimes under international law committed by both sides in the country’s armed conflict will do that.