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Sri Lanka must end impunity for torture says Amnesty

The Sri Lankan government must end impunity for torture by holding those responsible accountable said Amnesty this week. 

The statement follows the report by the UN Committee Against Torture this month which called on the government to investigate ongoing reports of torture by its security services. 

“If the Sri Lankan authorities are serious about breaking with the harrowing legacy of the country’s decades-long conflict, it must end impunity for torture and other acts of ill-treatment,” Amnesty International’s South Asia director, Champa Patel said. 

“Sri Lanka has taken important and positive steps. However, we also share the UN Committee against Torture’s alarm over Sri Lanka’s failure to prevent these crimes by the security forces and their concern that torture and other ill-treatment continue to take place. Impunity persists for perpetrators, as well as for those who have committed enforced disappearances, and deaths in custody and the use of coerced confessions continue to be reported.”

“The Sri Lankan authorities need to match their words with actions. The Committee against Torture has made a series of recommendations that should be acted on immediately. Safeguards should be put in place. Security forces have to know that torture and other ill-treatment will not be tolerated and that any survivors must obtain redress,” Champa Patel added. 

Amnesty International is also calling on the Sri Lankan authorities to take the following steps recommended by the Committee to prevent torture and other ill-treatment:

  • End reprisals against victims and witnesses of these crimes
  • Repeal the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act and abolish the regime of administrative detention including in the form of “rehabilitation”
  • Ensure that all detainees are either promptly charged with recognizable offences and remanded by a court, , or else released
  • Ensure that the Protection Division provided for by the Assistance to and Protection of Victims of Crimes and Witnesses Act is an autonomous entity, independent of the police command structure
  • Ensure that the Office of Missing Persons is given enhanced capacity, including forensic expertise, to allow it to carry out effective investigations
  • Guarantee detainees prompt and unrestricted access to a lawyer from the time of arrest, including during interrogation
  • Ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT), with a view to providing international oversight of places of detention as well as establishing an independent mechanism (National Preventive Mechanism) to monitor all places of detention
  • Guarantee victims of torture and other ill-treatment effective reparations, including restitution, compensation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.