Sri Lanka’s that failure to address past abuses contributes to ongoing torture on the island, wrote Ann Hannah, Acting Director of Policy and Advocacy at Freedom from Torture in a blog post last week.
“There is a culture of impunity that has very few structures in place to challenge it, coupled by at best ambiguous political messaging about investigations and justice for past abuses,” she said.
She noted that Sri Lanka remains the top country of origin for referrals of torture survivors for her organisation, which helps provides support for victims in the UK. Despite this the British government has been criticised over its approach with Sri Lanka.
“The UK government, for example, is supporting capacity building with various units of the Sri Lankan police and we know has in the past explored options for defence engagement but there is very little information available about how they are addressing torture prevention,” she noted, adding that they “urge that the UK makes sure it’s criticism and friendship are both consistent and public”.
“More has to be done to tackle this culture of impunity – concern about ongoing security threats never justify torture and there is a risk that mistreatment will contribute to the very thing the authorities worry about,” she said.
“It is short-termist to think that not dealing with accountability now will create longer-term political stability.”
“If we are serious about sending a message that torture and other human rights abuses are unacceptable in Sri Lanka then we must to continue to demand that those responsible are investigated and held to account.”
Read the full text of her blog post here.