Assault on dissent thrives in Sri Lanka: Amnesty International writes to the 23rd session of the UN Human Rights Council (27 May – 14 June 2013)

Amnesty international.jpg logo  Four years have passed since the end of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka, but Sri Lankan authorities continue to deny mounting evidence of crimes under international law committed by its forces during Sri Lanka’s protracted armed conflict. Amnesty International has documented dozens of attempts by Sri Lankan authorities to silence critical voices, particularly those calling for human rights accountability.

During Sri Lanka’s Universal Periodic Reviews in 2008 and 2012, in reporting to the UN Committee against Torture and the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, and in addressing the Human Rights Council (HRC), the Sri Lankan government has claimed to be protecting human rights. Serious human rights violations continue.

Sri Lankan authorities have responded to international and domestic calls for greater human rights accountability by establishing commissions to examine allegations of abuse, but have then largely ignored their recommendations.

The Sri Lankan government says it respects the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, even while its security forces and supporters repress critics with impunity. The Government of Sri Lanka continues to employ the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) to detain critics.

HRC Resolution 19/2 of 2012 called on Sri Lanka to ensure accountability for alleged violations under international law; Resolution 22/1 of 2013 reiterated this call and expressed concern over reports of continuing violations of human rights.

It noted the call of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for an “independent and credible international investigation into alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law” in Sri Lanka, and sets the stage to call for such an investigation if the Government of Sri Lanka continues to fail to act.

Amnesty International believes international action to secure accountability in Sri Lanka remains essential given the iron grip the government exerts on its domestic critics.

Amnesty International urges UN member states to support the UN in:

Establishing a credible and independent international investigation into allegations of crimes under international law committed by Sri Lankan government forces and allied armed groups as well as the LTTE. Ongoing international monitoring of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, including of the effectiveness of any domestic accountability processes;

Amnesty International urges the Government of Sri Lanka to:

Ensure that all suspected perpetrators of crimes under international law are prosecuted in proceedings which comply with international standards for fair trial.

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