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‘Sri Lanka, the top holiday destination for 2019, is polluted by torture and lies’

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Sri Lanka, the country that the Lonely Planet declared as the top destination of 2019, is a “holiday paradise is polluted by torture and lies,” wrote Freedom from Torture's policy and advocacy director Steve Crawshaw in The Independent last week.

“This failure to confront, let alone prosecute, past crimes provides the climate in which torture and other abuses continue today,” said Crawshaw. “Torture survivors who have received rehabilitation treatment from Freedom from Torture tell us repeatedly of the importance of seeing those who have committed torture brought to account.”

“Our new report, "Too Little Change", reveals a pattern of ongoing torture of Tamils in the context of security operations over the past four years, forensically documented by our doctors. The latest report on Sri Lanka from the UN human rights office, published this month, echoes those findings.

The UK government has in past years been reluctant to believe the testimony of many Sri Lankan torture survivors, even when backed up by powerful medical evidence. Asylum decision-makers even started to argue that scars were self-inflicted “by proxy”. This month, the UK Supreme Court pushed back strongly on that narrative, concluding that evidence of this among asylum seekers was “almost non-existent”. The court reaffirmed the central role of medical experts.”

“This is crunch time to effect lasting change in the country,” Crawshaw adds. “Given how little progress there has been in the past four years, specific and time-limited commitments are be essential, rather than vague promises that are simply ignored.”

See the full text of his piece here.

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