US Human Rights report accuses Sri Lankan government of serious right violations

Apr 09, Colombo: although the number of extrajudicial killings and disappearances declined last year, the Sri Lankan government and its agents continued to be responsible for serious human rights problems in the country, the United States said in a report released Friday.

The 2010 Human Rights Report released by the United State Department of State yesterday alleged that Sri Lankan security forces committed arbitrary and unlawful killings and tortured and abused detainees. Authorities arbitrarily arrested and detained citizens creating fear among minority populations, the report alleged.

Disappearances continued to be a problem although at a lower rate than during the war, the report said, while noting that during 2010 disappearances often appeared connected with extortion and other criminal activity, sometimes involving government actors.

“In the east and the north, military intelligence and other security personnel, sometimes working with armed paramilitaries, carried out documented and undocumented detentions of civilians suspected of LTTE connections,” the 2010 report observed.

Discussing the political prisoners, the 2010 HR report said during the year the government detained and imprisoned a small number of persons for political reasons but the government allowed international humanitarian organizations to have access to those prisoners on a regular basis.

Prison conditions did not meet international standards due to overcrowding and the lack of sanitary facilities, it said.

Although the law provides for freedom of speech and of the press in practice it was not so, the HR report said, adding that government officials ‘criticized, pressured, and harassed the media,’ and most journalists practiced self-censorship.

A Unite Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) report issued last July noted that due to the cessation of hostilities, Sri Lankans originating from the northern part of the country were no longer in need of international protection under broader refugee criteria or complementary forms of protection solely on the basis of risk of indiscriminate harm.

The UNHCR has decided that, in light of the improved human rights and security situation in the country, there was no longer a need for group-based protection mechanisms or for a presumption of eligibility for Sri Lankans of Tamil ethnicity originating from northern part of the country, the HR 2010 report said.

The full 40-page report can be found here.

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