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Strong international involvement needed to address ongoing torture in Sri Lanka says Freedom From Torture

A 78 page study by Freedom from Torture UK, found that Sri Lanka’s military, police and intelligence services have carried on practicing torture and rape against Tamils after the armed conflict, with incidents also occurring under the new Sirisena government.

The report called on member states of the United Nations Human rights Council and Security Council to work to ensure a “genuine accountability process” which to win the confidence of the Tamil community “must include strong international participation at every stage and level.”

Calling on Maithripala Sirisena to publically acknowledge torture and release the details of all detention camps on the island, the report also urged Sri Lanka's government to retroactively ratify the Rome State of the International Criminal Court to allow for the court to look into crimes committed during the final stages of Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict if needs be.

The Policy and Advocacy Director at Freedom from Torture, Sonya Sceats, said,

“That torture is deeply entrenched in the Sri Lankan military and policing apparatus is undeniable. The new political leadership elected to work with the President next week must be fearless in pursuing accountability for those responsible, no matter how powerful they are, and must put in place a credible plan to prevent torture in the future. Full accountability for torture and other grave abuses is essential and any process requires strong international participation at every stage and level to win the confidence of survivors, including those from the Tamil minority.”

The report documented 148 cases of torture in Sri Lanka, 94 percent of which were against Tamils. 

Citing cases of the torture of Tamils upon return to Sri Lanka after living in the UK, the report said,

“It is of particular concern to Freedom from Torture that more than one third of the people whose cases were reviewed in this study were detained and tortured in Sri Lanka after returning from the UK following the end of the armed conflict (55 of 148 cases or 37%). Twenty-one people were accused of attending particular protests and demonstrations in the UK and eleven were shown photographs taken at these events.

Expressing concern at evidence of ongoing torture under Sri Lanka’s government, the report outlined at least 8 possible cases of torture after January’s presidential elections.

The report comes as a separate investigation into Sri Lanka, last month, found evidence of secret detention centers in Sri Lanka with cases of torture that occurred as recently as July 2015.

Sri Lanka continues 'multifaceted assault of terror' on Tamils under new government (28 Jul 2015)