Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Update: Sri Lanka

The 2013 Get On The Bus action on Sri Lanka focused on ending the use of arbitrary detention by the Sri Lankan government. From 1983 until 2009, Sri Lanka experienced a brutal civil war between government forces and the separatist group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who were seeking an independent state for the country’s Tamil minority in the north and east of the island. The war ended with a government victory over the LTTE. During the conflict, the Sri Lankan government used the repressive Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and other security legislation to detain without charge or trial thousands of suspected members or supporters of the LTTE. Many detainees were tortured in custody; some were killed or “disappeared.” These practices all violated international human rights law, which the Sri Lankan government has pledged to uphold.

Even after the defeat of the LTTE, the Sri Lankan government has continued to use the same tactics against peaceful critics (including journalists) that had been in place during decades of war. The 2013 Get On The Bus action demanded that

  1. the PTA be repealed and the system of administrative detention abolished, 
  2. all detainees be promptly released unless they are charged with recognizable crimes and given fair trials, and 
  3. the Sri Lankan government provide care and compensation to any detainees who were tortured and hold their torturers accountable.

Since the 2013 Get On The Bus action, there has been little discernible progress on this issue. The Sri Lankan government has refused to repeal the PTA and has made several official statements about the need to remain vigilant against perceived terrorist threats. People in Sri Lanka are still being arbitrarily detained. Torture of detainees in custody is rampant, with more reports of detainees being killed in custody. The Amnesty International report released last year, Sri Lanka’s Assault on Dissent, documented how human rights defenders and others have been detained, harassed, threatened and even killed since the end of the war.

Amnesty International continues to campaign on this issue and to stand with all those whose human rights are being violated in Sri Lanka. We will not rest until justice is done.

No comments: