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Sri Lanka gives itself a pat on the back

Having submitted to its National Report for the upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council, the new ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha, told the 21st session that Sri Lanka was looking forward to the process.

Claiming that the government the military was "no longer involved in civil administration in the Northern and the Eastern provinces", and "the Security Forces presence in the Jaffna peninsula has been reduced from 50,000 at the height of the conflict, to 15,000 at present", Aryasinha also claimed that "Sri Lanka's democratic credentials were yet again re-asserted 2 days ago with the successful conduct of Provincial Council elections, including in the previously conflict affected Eastern Province."

Civil society groups and rights groups on the island, within the Tamil diaspora and internationally, sumitted rather different reports however.

See here for a summary of their submissions to the upcoming UPR session on Sri Lanka. The summary was prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the UN Human Rights Council.

Extracts reproduced below:

'FT [Freedom from Torture] noted that torture perpetrated by state actors within both the military and police had continued following the end of the conflict in May 2009 and was still occurring in 2011. Those at particular risk included Tamils who have an actual or perceived association with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).'

'AI [Amnesty International] noted reports that torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment of detainees, remain common and widespread in Sri Lanka. According to AI, legal and procedural shortcomings contribute to this failure, as does the lack of political will on the part of the authorities to eradicate the use of torture and ill-treatment and to bring those responsible to justice in fair trials.'

'HRW [Human Rights Watch] stated that since the war ended, the Government had not launched a single credible investigation into alleged abuses. The lack of investigation was conspicuous with regard to several incidents featured in two documentaries by the British television station Channel 4 showing gruesome images of apparent summary executions of captured and bound LTTE combatants.'