New York, Jan 21: Sri Lanka made little progress in 2013 in accountability for serious human rights abuses committed during the civil war that ended in 2009, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.
As the UN and international condemnation escalated, human rights activists and journalists critical of the government continued to face intimidation and threats, it said in its World Report 2014.
“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 of Human Rights Watch.
In the 667-page world report, its 24th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries.
The Sri Lankan government responded to a March resolution by the UN Human Rights Council by announcing various actions to provide accountability in accordance with its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.
While some of these were 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 was uncertain, the report said.
The UN human rights chief, Navi Pillay, after a week-long visit in August, said she found no credible evidence of any progress.
Several governments used the November Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo to spotlight the lack of accountability.
Sri Lankans who criticized the government remained subject to harassment or threats, Human Rights Watch said.
Members of the minority Tamil community deemed to have ties to the defeated Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) faced serious abuse, it said.
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.