HRW says government response discouraging

The preliminary government response to the new report and video by Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Sri Lanka has been discouraging, South Asia Director for Human Rights Watch Meenakshi Ganguly said.

She told the Colombo Gazette that they hoped the government would take the allegations seriously and issue a strong message to its security forces.

The report by the New York based Human Rights Watch had detailed a number of abuses of former LTTE detainees and others while in army and police custody.

“Preliminary government response has been discouraging. The High Commissioner to India says these are all made up stories to get asylum, ignoring the fact that the documentation is backed by medical reports,” Ganguly said.

The army had also denied the allegations and said that if there are such claims then a complaint should be lodged with the police for it to be investigated.

“The military has said that people should complain to the police. Which is really disappointing because the police in Sri Lanka operates under the military, and are unlikely to accept or investigate complaints against the army,” Ganguly said.

Human Rights Watch said in the report titled “‘We Will Teach You a Lesson’: Sexual Violence against Tamils by Sri Lankan Security Forces” that the Sri Lankan security forces have been using rape and other forms of sexual violence to torture suspected members or supporters of the LTTE.

While widespread rape in custody occurred during the armed conflict that ended in May 2009, Human Rights Watch said it had found that politically motivated sexual violence by the military and police continues to the present.

Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella had told reporters that he got a copy of the report on February 22 claiming that 75 people were victims of abuse in Sri Lanka.

Rambukwella said he had asked for the names and other details of the 75 people but HRW had refused to release those details as the family members of those 75 people are still in Sri Lanka.

“These are all lies. They have compiled this report with no evidence. I say this with responsibility,” the Minister said. (Colombo Gazette)