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Tamils continue to be tortured in Sri Lanka, finds new report

A report by the London-based charity Freedom From Torture has found Tamils continue to be tortured by Sri Lankan security forces despite assurances from Colombo that the practice would be halted, stating that the government “continues to flout its own promises”.

Freedom From Torture noted that Sri Lanka was - for the seventh successive year – “the top country of origin for torture survivors referred… for clinical services and medico-legal reports”.

The report, which is based on a systematic review of 16 Medico-Legal Reports, said it shows “that little has changed, despite the assurances of the government to the contrary”. All of the victims in this report were Tamil.

It went on to add,

“Several people – all of whom lived in the Northern Province – described a situation of ongoing surveillance of the Tamil population by the Sri Lankan authorities through spot checks at people’s homes, or at checkpoints, where they were asked for proof of formal processing at the end of the war. Failure to produce the required documentation raised the authorities’ suspicion. Others described a context in which legitimate political activities or human rights activism, in particular campaigning for justice for the missing, led to targeting by the authorities.”

“Freedom from Torture finds that torture has continued in a context of ongoing security operations in post-conflict Sri Lanka, despite the new government’s promise of a “zero tolerance” policy on torture,” stated the report.

Steve Crawshaw, Director of Policy & Advocacy at Freedom from Torture added,

"The government’s proclaimed commitment to protect human rights seems empty, in the context of ongoing torture. We don’t need box-ticking exercises, we need meaningful change."

The report also said that that steps taken by Colombo “have fallen short of the commitments made by the government in September 2015 to the UN Human Rights Council to promote reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka.”

“The continued use of torture is a clear example that Sri Lanka continues to flout its own promises.”

“The evidence in this briefing, combined with the slow progress made by the government on commitments undertaken four years ago, suggests that the imperative for ongoing international monitoring and oversight is strong. Freedom from Torture believes that ongoing international scrutiny and support through a renewed Human Rights Council mandate is essential to ensure that progress towards reform, reconciliation and accountability is not stalled, with serious implications.”

See the full text of the report here.


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