Sri Lanka says it is studying the report on Sri Lanka by the Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, on his Mission to Sri Lanka, with due diligence and will also look to prevent and combat torture.
The report on Sri Lanka, which was formally submitted to the UN Human Rights Council today during the 34th session, found that while the practice of torture was less prevalent, and the methods used were less severe, than during the conflict, “a culture of torture” nevertheless persisted – particularly in the early stages of arrest and interrogation and against those suspected of being involved in terrorism or other offences against national security.
The Special Rapporteur Nils Melzer said the report on Sri Lanka was prepared by his predecessor Juan Méndez.
Responding to the report during the Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Geneva Ravinatha P. Aryasinha said that the National Unity Government is firm in its commitment to a zero-tolerance policy on torture.
“On the specific matter of incidence of torture, the National Unity Government is firm in its commitment to a zero-tolerance policy on torture, which was demonstrated by the participation of the President’s participation in a walk against torture organised by the National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka last year,” the Ambassador said.
He said that in seeking a comprehensive approach to address issues raised, Sri Lanka has drafted, through a wide-ranging consultative process, the National Human Rights Action Plan 2017-2021, which has been approved by the Cabinet of Ministers in January.
Apart from that, Sri Lanka is also currently in the process of deliberating on establishing an effective mechanism for constant and continuous follow-up and implementation of recommendations by Special Procedures and other human rights mechanisms.
The ICRC in Sri Lanka has been granted access and visits persons detained in prisons, based on a MoU between the ICRC and the Government. This Agreement primarily focuses on persons held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. However, in practice, Sri Lankan authorities have provided broader access to all detainees held in places of detention.
The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka receives complaints; conducts investigations pertaining to incidents of torture; regularly monitors activities in places of detention, and makes recommendations. Pursuant to the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which was passed in April 2015, the Commission has been strengthened further as an independent institution. With a view to facilitating the effective discharge of its functions, the Government has taken steps to increase the resources allocated to the Commission, with Rs. 192 million allocated for 2017.
Towards facilitating the investigation of allegations of torture, the Ambassador said Sri Lanka would be grateful for further information being provided to the Government to ensure investigation and justice. (Colombo Gazette)