US Rights report criticises GoSL and LTTE
[TamilNet, Sunday, 29 February 2004, 11:23 GMT]
Annual country report on Human Rights Practices for 2003, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the Government of United States of America, criticised both the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for human rights abuses. "...the military and police [of GoSL] reportedly tortured, killed and raped detainees...," and the "LTTE was responsible for arbitrary arrest, torture, harassment, disappearances, extortion, and detention," the report said.
The report was critical on the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and the Emergency Regulations that permitted arbitrary arrests.
"The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, there were serious problems in some areas. There were no reports of security forces committing politically motivated killings and no reports of disappearances; however, the military and police reportedly tortured, killed and raped detainees. Prison conditions remained poor. There were reports of arbitrary arrest during the year. During 2002, the Government released more than 750 Tamils held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). Only 65 Tamils held under the PTA remained in custody.
" The PTA, like the Emergency Regulations (ER) repealed in 2001, permitted warrantless arrests and nonaccountable detentions. Unlike in the recent past, there were few reports that security forces harassed journalists during the year. Violence and discrimination against women, child prostitution, child labor, limitations of worker rights, especially in the Export Processing Zones (EPZs), and discrimination against persons with disabilities continued to be problems. Violence against religious minorities increased, and institutionalized ethnic discrimination against Tamils remained a problem. Trafficking in women and children for the purpose of forced labor occurred, and there was some trafficking of women and children for the commercial sex industry. The Government acted against the children for sex trade, and international involvement in the sex trade declined significantly."
The Liberation Tigers "continued to commit serious human rights abuses," the report said.
"The LTTE was responsible for arbitrary arrest, torture, harassment, disappearances, extortion, and detention. Through a campaign of intimidation, the LTTE continued to undermine the work of elected local government bodies in Jaffna and the east. On occasion, the LTTE prevented political and governmental activities from occurring in the north and east. There was overwhelming evidence that the LTTE killed more than 36 members of anti-LTTE Tamil political groups and alleged informants during the year.
"There were also instances of intimidation of Muslims by the LTTE, and there was fighting between LTTE personnel in the east and Muslims that left several Muslims dead. The LTTE continued to control large sections of the north and east. The LTTE permitted journalists some access to the areas of the country it controlled. Some LTTE-imposed restrictions remained on freedom of movement of citizens. The LTTE denied those under its control the right to change their government, did not provide for fair trials, infringed on privacy rights, used child soldiers, and discriminated against ethnic and religious minorities," the report said. Full text of the report can be accessed on the following link.