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123 Tamils abducted between 2015-2022, 11 under current Sri Lankan regime - ITJP

A new report by the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) has unveiled ongoing abuses against Eelam Tamils by Sri Lankan authorities, including torture and rape under the present government.

Despite fifteen years passing since the end of the armed struggle, the report documents 123 cases of abduction and torture between 2015 and 2022, with 11 occurring under President Ranil Wickremesinghe's administration.The report paints a grim picture of persistent brutality by Sri Lankan security forces, who continue to treat Tamils as "security threats". Many victims, unlawfully detained, faced interrogation and torture. Methods included severe beatings, asphyxiation with petrol or chilli powder, burning, drownings, and suspension by ropes.

The youngest detainee was aged between just 17 and 19-years-old, with 9 such cases of teenagers being detained recorded.

“Sexual torture was also frequently used,” the report read. "91 detentions, including all but one of the female detainees, involved sexual torture. 82 detentions involved at least one of at least five kinds of sexual violence: the squeezing of genitals; forced oral sex; penile rape; anal rape with a rod; and forced masturbation. 51 detentions involved rape, 11 using rods. 40 of the rapes involved men and 11 were women."

Victims, often unaware of their captors' identities or reasons for detention, endured periods ranging from one day to one and a half years. Many were forced to sign confessions in Sinhala - a language they did not understand. The ITJP also highlights a pattern of enforced disappearances.

"Apart from a handful, all the detainees were questioned about issues relating to the LTTE – though half of the detainees never had any association with it," the report added. "They were also questioned about their involvement in legitimate peaceful political activity including attendance at Tamil protests and remembrance meetings or their support for the Tamil National Alliance, or other Tamil political parties. 

These findings echo concerns voiced at the recent Human Rights Council session, where UN Commissioner Türk highlighted ongoing reports of abduction, unlawful detention, and torture by Sri Lankan authorities, particularly in the North and East.

In response, the ITJP proposes urgent measures, including the removal of implicated officials, repeal of draconian legislation, dissolution of systems incentivizing torture, and an end to the military-backed anti-narcotics campaign "Yukthiya."

The ITJP report proposes a series of recommendations aimed at addressing the systemic abuses.

Key suggestions include the removal of implicated officials, such as the Inspector General of Police and individuals within oversight bodies complicit in disappearances, such as Shavendra Silva, who is sanctioned from entering the US over his war crimes. Additionally, the report calls for the repeal of draconian legislation such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Online Safety Act, the dissolution of the police reward system incentivising torture, and the establishment of an independent prosecutor's office. Notably, the ITJP urges an immediate halt to the military-backed anti-narcotics campaign "Yukthiya," where reports of torture following arbitrary arrests have surfaced.

The full report can be found here

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