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UN torture body to visit Sri Lanka next month

The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT) will visit Sri Lanka next month, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said on Friday. 

“The visit to Sri Lanka will take place in early April, and a media advisory announcing the precise dates, as well as further information, will be issued ahead of the visit,” the OHCHR said. 

The visit follows a private session of the torture prevention body held last month and comes as the OHCHR report released on Friday highlighted reports of abduction and torture by Sri Lankan security forces which allegedly took place between 2016 and 2018, pointing out that contrary to government assurances there were no investigations currently being undertaken. 

"OHCHR has continued to receive credible information about cases of abduction, unlawful detention, torture and sexual violence by Sri Lanka security forces, which allegedly took place in 2016 to 2018," the report stated.

"A preliminary assessment of the information received indicates that there are reasonable grounds to believe that accounts of unlawful abductions and detention and of torture, including incidents of sexual violence against men and women, are credible, and that such practices might be continuing in northern Sri Lanka. Such allegations should be the subject of prompt, effective, transparent, independent and impartial investigations. In the past, the Government has condemned any act of torture, and indicated that any allegation of torture would be properly investigated and prosecuted. OHCHR is not aware of any investigations undertaken to date into the above-mentioned allegations."

Read more: 'Virtually no progress' in Sri Lanka on war crimes investigations says UN human rights chief's office

Last year the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) wrote to Sri Lanka, after the government failed to respond to a report, which called for information to be provided on the “establishment of a judicial mechanism” to investigate torture and information on the role of a former Criminal Investigations Department head.

“The information sought by the Committee has not been provided yet, although more than one year has elapsed from the transmittal of the Committee’s concluding observations,” said a letter sent to Sri Lanka’s ambassador in Geneva. 

Sri Lanka had until December 2017 to respond to the report, which was issued after the state was discussed at the 59th session of the UN CAT in 2016. 

Read more: UN writes to Sri Lanka over failure to meet deadline on torture report