Amnesty condemns rights violations by GoSL, LTTE
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 21 June 2005, 20:20 GMT]
Amnesty International accused the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) of torture in police custody, continued impunity for security forces against rights violations and for the presence of threat to religious minorities, in its report covering events from January to December 2004. Amnesty drew attention to the "dramatic increase in politically motivated killings," after renegade commander Muralitharan's split and accused the LTTE of continued recruitment of children, acknowledging the LTTE released "large number of child soldiers...."
The ceasefire between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) remained in place, despite a number of violations and a failure to resume peace talks, Amnesty said in its report.
Summarizing the rights violations of Government of Sri Lanka, Amnesty said, "In November the government announced a “reactivation” of the death penalty. Torture in police custody was widely reported and victims seeking redress faced threats and violence. There was little progress towards holding security forces to account for past human rights violations. Religious minorities came under threat, with attacks on Christians and Muslims, as well as the tabling of a bill aimed at curbing religious conversions."
Pointing out that, "The human rights situation in the north-east deteriorated following a violent split within the LTTE in April and a dramatic increase in politically motivated killings," the Amnesty said of the LTTE: " Although a large number of child soldiers were released during the internal fighting, the LTTE continued to recruit children, including through abduction."
Amnesty said, referring to the Government of Sri Lanka's draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) "40 prisoners remained in detention under the PTA at the end of the year," and pointed to the conclusion made by the UN Human Rights Committee that "the rights of Nallaratnam Singarasa had been violated and that he should be given an appropriate remedy such as “release or retrial and compensation. Nallaratnam Singarasa was detained under the PTA in 1993 and sentenced to 50 years’ imprisonment in 1995. Nallaratnam Singarasa claimed that while in detention he was tortured and forced to put his thumbprint to a confession written in Sinhalese, a language he did not understand. This confession formed the main basis for his conviction."
Amnesty accused the LTTE of publicly executing Balasuntaram Sritharan and Thillaiampalam Sundararajan in the eastern village of Illuppaiadaichenai and for killing Balanadarajah Iyer, a senior EPDP spokesman.
On recruitment of child soldiers, the report said, "The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported the recruitment of 448 children as soldiers in the first half of 2004, while acknowledging that the actual figure was probably far higher.
"It was reported that a large number of child soldiers were deployed in the fighting between the LTTE and the Karuna faction in April and that there were some child casualties. Following the fighting, over 1,600 child soldiers from the east, who had fought alongside Colonel Karuna, were disbanded and spontaneously returned to their homes. In May and June it was reported that the LTTE were re-recruiting many of these demobilized children, using tactics of intimidation, abduction and violence..."