HRW: Rajapaksa Government, one of world's worst perpetrators of enforced disappearances

[TamilNet, Thursday, 06 March 2008, 09:09 GMT]
The United States-based Human Rights Watch, an International rights advocacy group, on Thursday said Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa, "once a rights advocate," has now led his government to become "one of the world’s worst perpetrators of enforced disappearances." Issuing a 241-page report, "Recurring Nightmare: State Responsibility for 'Disappearances' and Abductions in Sri Lanka," the group has called on, in particular, India and Japan, to make further military and other non-humanitarian assistance to Sri Lanka contingent on government efforts to halt the practice of “disappearances,” and to end impunity, including its acceptance of an international monitoring mission.

In a press release, issued from New York, the Human Rights Watch has called on the government of Sri Lanka on Thursday to:

  • Take immediate measures to end the practice of enforced disappearances, vigorously investigate all cases reported, and bring the perpetrators to account; and

  • Cooperate with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish and deploy an international monitoring team to report on violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict;

The vast majority of cases documented by Human Rights Watch indicate the involvement of government security forces – army, navy, or police. In some cases, relatives of the “disappeared” identified specific military units that had detained their relatives and army camps where they had been taken.

The number of abductions perpetrated by the LTTE is comparatively low since targeted killings, rather than abductions, appear to be the LTTE’s primary tactic. The LTTE has also been responsible for numerous other egregious abuses, including bombings against civilians, political assassinations, forced child recruitment, and the systematic repression of basic civil and political rights in areas under their control.

In the face of the crisis, the government of Sri Lanka has demonstrated an utter lack of resolve to investigate and prosecute those responsible. Not a single member of the security forces has been brought to justice for involvement in “disappearances” or abductions. Human Rights Watch said that Sri Lanka’s emergency laws, which grant the security forces sweeping powers to arbitrarily arrest and detain people without being held to account, have facilitated enforced disappearances.

“So long as soldiers and police can commit ‘disappearances’ with impunity, this horrific crime will continue,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

External Links:
HRW: Recurring Nightmare: State Responsibility for 'Disappearances' and Abductions in Sri Lanka


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