The UN has recommended a report submitted by Civil Society organisations and over 80 specialists requesting the UN to follow strict caution which would prevent the provision of technical support and training to Sri Lanka’s Terrorist Investigation Division (TID), which is facing allegations of human rights violations including torture and other foreign institutions.
The 104 page report states that British Government has broken the pledge given to the international community on preventing torture.
Redress Foundation which seek justice and reparation for survivors of torture, combat impunity for governments and individuals who perpetrate it, and develop and promote compliance with international standards has submitted the report to the UN Committee against Torture (UNCAT).
The two day conference which commenced on May 7th in Geneva will scrutinise the UK for its record on torture and ill-treatment at home and abroad, as the UN Committee against Torture reviews compliance with its obligations over the last five years under the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Serious torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment under TID:
The Redress report determines that Britain has broken its promise given to the international community on standing up against torture.
The report has drawn the attention of the UN regarding training provided to several Sri Lankan Police TID officers by the British Government.
Several reports regarding the TID’s torture and ill-treatment has been filed with the UN and several Human Rights Organisations.
Most of the Sri Lankan Tamils who had sought political refuge in the UK are those who were victims of TID torture. The report refers to at least three TID officers in charge of the police units responsible for such torture.
Britain had commenced training TID officers in 2011 and the Civil Society organisations allege that the process of training has not been done in a transparent manner.
There are concerns regarding the transparency of such overseas projects and training. The UK Government has not provided access to OSJA assessments in response to a series of FOIA requests regarding both Sri Lanka and Bahrain. The FCO has refused to disclose information on funds for projects in Bahrain on the basis of national security and other exemptions relating to the involvement of the intelligence services.47 In September 2018 the UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee published a report criticising the FCO’s lack of transparency regarding human rights work in Bahrain.
Therefore, the Redress report recommends that an independent investigation should be carried out regarding the aid provided to foreign institutions by the British Government.
The UK should ensure that technical assistance and training provided to overseas governments and institutions comply with its international human rights obligations. Such human rights assessments should be made public and there should be robust vetting procedures in place to prevent training of alleged torturers. There should be an independent audit of the impact of such assistance and training and reports of allegations of torture, the report states.
Allegations against SIS Chief Sisira Mendis:
Director of International Affairs and Rights of the British Justice Ministry Paul Candler is leading the British team at this conference.
The Freedom from Torture organisation which has continuously raised their voice against torture and harassment by the Sri Lankan security forces and Redress had contributed to formulating the report.
The Sri Lankan government has so far failed to respond to questions raised by the United Nations Committee Against Torture regarding the State Intelligence Service Chief Sisira Mendis from 2008-2009 during his tenure as the head of the TID and CID having tortured persons under his custody.