Sri Lanka has failed to successfully investigate the issues of torture [report, PDF] and impunity for past human rights violations in the country, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] said Monday on the eve of a review by the UN Committee Against Torture [official website]. In its report, AI documented that there are still common and widespread patterns of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners despite the fact that these actions are outlawed by the legislation and criminalized under the Sri Lankan Convention against Torture (CAT) [text]. AI referred to additional sources, such as the report [text, PDF] by the Asian Human Rights Commission [advocacy website] that summarized 323 reported cases of torture by the Sri Lankan police officials from 1998 to 2011. According to the report, only three prosecutions were made under the CAT during its first 14 years of implementation (1994-2008). AI concluded that Sri Lanka failed to successfully prosecute officials who were convicted for violation of human rights in the country:
Sri Lanka's own laws should, but fail to, provide protection from the torture and ill-treatment which is so often a consequence of arbitrary and incommunicado detention. Enforcement of laws and directives aimed at preventing torture require a clear implementation plan to ensure that all forces responsible for arrests and detentions are aware of and understand these laws and procedures, and that those who breach them are disciplined, including through criminal prosecution in fair trials of those who commit crimes.AI urged the Sri Lankan government to ensure that its investigation of allegations of torture as well as enforcement of the penalties against government officials engaged in torture and other ill-treatment against detainees are strictly enforced. In addition, AI called for an independent international investigation.
Last month, a group of rights organizations and lawmakers urged [JURIST report] Australia to investigate Sri Lankan war crimes and a top ranking official in the Sri Lankan High Commission [official website] in Canberra for war crimes that were allegedly committed by the Sri Lankan Navy during its fight against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009. Earlier in October, the Sri Lankan government announced that it would adopt a five-year action plan [JURIST report], the National Action Plan for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights, which would take effect immediately. This announcement was in response to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's inquiry [JURIST report] to the UN Human Rights Council [official website] to evaluate the alleged claims found within a report [text, PDF] that accused the Sri Lankan government of committing war crimes during the final stages of the conflict with the LTTE in 2009. The report was released in April of this year stating [JURIST report] that it found some credible evidence of the alleged war crimes.