US report on human rights notes police abuses, disappearances in Sri Lanka

US report on human rights notes police abuses, disappearances in Sri Lanka

April 20, 2013   02:24 pm

The US State Department’s report on human rights states that attacks on and harassment of civil society activists, LTTE sympathizers and journalists is creating an environment of fear and self-censorship in Sri Lanka.

The U.S. State Department in its “Country Reports On Human Rights Practices” for 2012, highlights “involuntary disappearances” as well as a lack of accountability for thousands who disappeared in previous years.

The report released by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington on Friday (April 19) says major human rights problems include “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,” the report said.

It states that lengthy pretrial detention and denial of fair public trial remained a problem in the country, and that during the year there were “coordinated moves by the government to undermine the independence of the judiciary.”

The report faults the government for infringing on citizens’ privacy rights while pointing out that there were restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, and movement. “Authorities harassed journalists critical of the government and self-censorship was widespread.”

“There were reports that the government, its agents, or its paramilitary allies committed arbitrary or unlawful killings, but reliable statistics on such killings were difficult to obtain, because past complainants were killed and some families feared reprisals if they filed complaints,” the report said.

The report charged that members of law enforcement in the country beat and otherwise abused criminal suspects and others.

“Among these alleged arbitrary or unlawful killings, there were reports of suspects detained by police or other security forces who died under questionable circumstances.”

“There were numerous reports throughout the year of victims randomly selected by police to be arrested and detained on unsubstantiated charges,” it said.

While the overall number of extrajudicial killings appeared to decrease from previous years, killings and assaults on civilians by government officials was a problem, the document said.

Enforced and involuntary disappearances continued to be a problem, the document said.

The report further says: “Some abductions included government critics, former LTTE cadre, and other targets, leading observers to conclude the involvement of the government or government-allied forces in several cases.

On the conditions of the country’s prisons it said they were “poor and did not meet international standards due to overcrowding and the lack of sanitary facilities”.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012 - Sri Lanka by deranapics

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