Sri Lanka yet to hold anyone accountable for alleged human rights violations: US report

Saturday, 27 June 2015 01:11 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Washington, DC: The Government of Sri Lanka is yet to hold anyone accountable for alleged violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law that occurred during the conflict that ended in 2009, a report released by the United States Department of State says.

The 2014 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices published by the US Department of State said the government prosecuted a very small number of government and military officials implicated in human rights abuses and government officials and others tied to the former ruling coalition enjoyed a high degree of impunity.

Releasing the report Thursday at the State Department Secretary of State John Kerry said nepotism and cronyism continued in Sri Lanka with loyalists to the now former ruling party allegedly receiving favoured consideration for high-ranking government and business positions with anti-corruption messages became a hallmark of the successful opposition political campaign in the run-up to the January 2015 elections.

Although involuntary disappearances and unlawful killings continued to diminish in comparison with the immediate post-war period, individuals suspected of association with pro government paramilitary groups committed killings, kidnappings, assaults, and intimidation of civilians.

According to the report, there were persistent reports of close, ground-level ties between paramilitary groups and Government security forces.

Among the major human rights abuses noted in the report that occurred last year in Sri Lanka were attacks on, and harassment of, civil society activists, journalists, and persons viewed as sympathisers of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) by individuals allegedly tied to the Government.

Harassment, threats, and attacks by pro-Government loyalists against media institutions, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), and critics of the Government were prevalent, contributing to widespread fear and self-censorship by journalists and diminished democratic activity due to the general failure to prosecute perpetrators.

Involuntary disappearances, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, abuse of detainees, rape, and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence were committed by police and security forces, the report noted.

Discrimination against persons with disabilities and against the ethnic Tamil minority continued, and a disproportionate number of the victims of human rights abuses were Tamils.

Discrimination and attacks against religious minorities, especially Muslims and evangelical Christians, continued to increase. The US report held the Buddhist group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) responsible for numerous abuses. BBS extremists have attacked and assaulted civilians and members of religious minorities and burned their property. Riots started by the BBS have resulted in at least three deaths.

Discrimination against persons based on sexual orientation continued. Limits on workers’ rights and child labour also remained problems.