US Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012

US country report on HR    Releasing the “The Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2012” US Secretary of State John Kerry said;

This report reaffirms in my judgment America’s commitment to advancing basic freedoms and dignity of all people, and our support for the brave men and women around the world who are working towards that goal, sometimes unbelievably courageously, in isolation, in the most deserted places, without the glare of the camera or the support of a lot of people. There are people of courage, amazing courage, around the world fighting for these rights.

There and elsewhere, governments continue to restrict civil society. They suppress dissent, and they stifle free expression. Religious minorities find themselves in prison for violating blasphemy laws. LGBT communities are marginalized or criminalized. So anywhere that human rights are under threat, the United States will proudly stand up, unabashedly, and continue to promote greater freedom, greater openness, and greater opportunity for all people. And that means speaking up when those rights are imperiled. It means engaging governments at the highest levels and pushing them to live up to their obligations to do right by their people.

Sri Lanka

In it’s executive summary on  a 45 page report on Sri Lanka The Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2012 states;

Sri Lanka is a constitutional, multiparty republic. President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was reelected to a second six-year term in January 2010, and the parliament, which was elected in April 2010, share constitutional power. The government is dominated by the president’s family; two of the president’s brothers hold key executive branch posts as defense secretary and minister of economic development, while a third brother is the speaker of parliament. A large number of other relatives, including the president’s son, also serve in important political or diplomatic positions. Independent observers generally characterized the presidential, parliamentary, and local elections as problematic. Elections were fraught with violations of the election law by all major parties and were influenced by the governing coalition’s use of state resources. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The major human rights problems were attacks on and harassment of civil society activists, persons viewed as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) sympathizers, and journalists by persons allegedly tied to the government, creating an environment of fear and self-censorship; involuntary disappearances as well as a lack of accountability for thousands who disappeared in previous years; and widespread impunity for a broad range of human rights abuses, particularly involving police torture, and attacks on media institutions and the judiciary.

Other serious human rights problems included unlawful killings by security forces and government-allied paramilitary groups, often in predominantly Tamil areas; torture and abuse of detainees by police and security forces; poor prison conditions; and arbitrary arrest and detention by authorities. Lengthy pretrial detention was a problem. Denial of fair public trial remained a problem, and during the year there were coordinated moves by the government to undermine the independence of the judiciary. The government infringed on citizens’ privacy rights. There were restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, and movement. While citizens generally were able to travel almost anywhere in the island, there continued to be police and military checkpoints in the north, and de facto high-security zones and other areas remained off limits to citizens. Authorities harassed journalists critical of the government and self-censorship was widespread. The president exercised authority under the 18th amendment to maintain control of appointments to previously independent public institutions that oversee the judiciary, police, and human rights. Lack of government transparency was a serious problem. Violence and discrimination against women were problems, as were abuse of children and trafficking in persons. Discrimination against persons with disabilities and against the ethnic Tamil minority continued, and a disproportionate number of victims of human rights violations were Tamils. Discrimination against persons based on their sexual orientation and against persons with HIV/AIDS were problems. Limits on workers’ rights and child labor remained problems.

The government prosecuted a very small number of officials implicated in human rights abuses but had yet to hold anyone accountable for alleged violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law that occurred during the conflict that ended in 2009.

During the year unknown actors suspected of association with pro government paramilitary groups committed killings, kidnappings, assaults, and intimidation of civilians. There were persistent reports of close, ground-level ties between paramilitary groups and government security forces.

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