Jul 25, 2018

‘Torture takes place under new govt.’ – Ben Emmerson Featured

UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson says in a latest report that following his visit to Sri Lanka, allegations that torture took place since the election of the new current government against at least 50 Tamils, emerged.

A report by him says, the evidence collected by the Special Rapporteur points to the conclusion that the use of torture has been, and remains today, endemic and systematic for those arrested and detained on national security grounds under the PTA.

Obtain a confession from detainees under the PTA is routine practice

Following his visit to Sri Lanka in from 10-14 July 2017 at the invitation of the Government, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture had concluded that “the use of torture and ill-treatment to obtain a confession from detainees under the PTA is routine practice.”

The Special Rapporteur was extremely concerned to learn that eighty per cent of those most recently arrested under the PTA in late 2016 complained of torture and physical ill-treatment following their arrest, in cases which were later dealt with under ordinary criminal law.

In meetings with victims of the PTA, their families and their lawyers, the Special Rapporteur’s attention was drawn to the fact while those most affected by the operation of the Act are Tamils, detentions and trials under the Act rarely occur in Tamil-majority areas.

A recommendation by him says to immediately establish a moratorium on the use of the PTA for new arrests until the Act is off the statute books and take urgent steps to repeal it.

President sought to shield Jagath Jayasuriya

The report also says, unfortunately, since the Special Rapporteur’s visit, the President sought to shield a former army general from a criminal complaint which accused him of command responsibility for war crimes.

President Maithripala Sirisena was reported as saying "I state very clearly that I will not allow anyone in the world to touch Jagath Jayasuriya or any other military chief or any war hero in this country."

Falls far short of international commitment

The report goes onto say, “This falls far short of Sri Lanka’s international commitment to achieve a lasting and just solution to its underlying problems, for the benefit of all of its communities, to establish a meaningful system of transitional justice including the rights to truth, justice, reparation, and guarantees of non-recurrence, that is governed by the principles of equality and accountability, and to put in place essential and urgently needed reform of the security sector.

Given the continuing prominent role that the security sector continues to have, including in the drafting of the new counter-terrorism legislation, it is critical that all those within the military, intelligence and police establishment allegedly responsible for grave human rights violations, including torture under the PTA, are identified and punished, and that the security sector is placed under full civilian control and oversight.