Amnesty International has submitted a 40-page briefing on Sri Lanka to the UN Human Rights Committee in connection with the Committee’s review next week of Sri Lanka’s fifth periodic report on its implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The submission looks at selected human rights concerns raised in the Committee’s List of Issues from March 2014 and documented extensively over the reporting period. In particular the submission features information gathered between 2012 and 2014 drawn from interviews with survivors of human rights violations and their families who have sought refuge outside Sri Lanka, as well as from correspondence with human rights defenders in Sri Lanka.
In a background note on the briefing, Amnesty International says the Sri Lankan government’s hostility towards human rights monitors makes it difficult for international human rights organizations to reach out to victims of repression and their families in Sri Lanka, who risk retaliation for communicating with international organizations.
Because of the possibility of reprisals to family members still in Sri Lanka as well documented cases of reprisals against returned asylum seekers, Amnesty International says it has withheld identifying information, which may include names of victims or witnesses, current locations, place names in Sri Lanka and dates or methods of communication.
“Sri Lanka’s fourth periodic report was submitted in 2002, soon after a cease-fire had been declared between the LTTE and government forces. It was considered by the Committee in 2003. The current report, due in 2007, was substantially delayed and was finally submitted in October 2012. It covers the nine year period from 2003 to 2012, during which major changes occurred in the nature and scale of human rights violations and abuses as Sri Lanka transitioned from a five year cease-fire to intensive armed conflict and when fighting ended, to a post conflict period that continues to be characterized by serious violations of human rights,” Amnesty International notes.
The briefing document says it is disturbing to note that despite these changes, many core concerns expressed by the Committee in its Concluding Observations in 2003 continue to exist 11 years later, including about Sri Lanka’s continued reliance on the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and the incompatibility of its provisions with the Covenant; the use of torture and enforced disappearances; and violations of freedom of expression and association.
Amnesty International remains deeply concerned about the persistent climate of impunity in Sri Lanka and the weakness of domestic mechanisms to protect human rights and deliver justice; its failure to protect minorities from violence and discrimination; and the pervasive use of torture, including sexual violence, and extrajudicial executions against former members of the LTTE, people with suspected links to the LTTE and their families and individuals reportedly detained for seeking information from the authorities about missing relatives. (Colombo Gazette)