New York, Jan 21: Sri Lanka made little progress in 2013 in accountability for serious human rights abuses committed during the country’s civil war that ended in 2009, Human Rights Watch has said in its World Report 2014.
As the United Nations and international condemnation escalated, human rights activists and journalists critical of the government continued to face intimidation and threats.
“The Sri Lankan government makes a lot of claims about pursuing accountability for wartime abuses, but the world is still waiting to see some results,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“It’s clearer than ever that an independent international investigation is needed to make genuine progress in providing justice for victims,” Adams added.
In the 667-page world report, its 24th edition, HRW reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries.
The Sri Lankan government responded to a March resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council by announcing various actions to provide accountability in accordance with its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.
While some of these are positive – such as arresting some of the suspects in the 2006 “Trinco Five” killings and beginning a six-month nationwide population survey to determine the civil war’s toll – both their outcome and broader impact on accountability is uncertain.
The UN human rights chief, Navi Pillay, after a week-long visit in August, said she found no credible evidence of any progress.
Sri Lankans who criticized the government remained subject to harassment or threats, Human Rights Watch said.
Pillay reported that the government was heading in an “increasingly authoritarian direction.”
Members of the ethnic minority Tamil community deemed to have ties to the defeated Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) faced serious abuse.
Torture, rape, and ill-treatment in custody by the security forces remain widespread.
Although the government rejected allegations of torture of detainees, several European countries suspended deportations of Tamils linked to the LTTE, finding them to be at risk of torture on return. (ANI)