HRW endorses restrictions on arms sales to Sri Lanka
[TamilNet, Thursday, 08 November 2007, 12:30 GMT]
In a letter sent to U.S. Representatives Nita M. Lowey and Frank R. Wolf on US foreign operations funding, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Wednesday: "there has also been a significant jump in abuses by government forces, such as indiscriminate shelling, extrajudicial executions, and forced disappearances...despite the creation of various new governmental bodies, there is little evidence that the Sri Lankan government is bringing the perpetrators of serious abuses to justice," and endorsed Senate's proposed conditions on "restricting the sale and transfer of arms to Sri Lanka."
Full text on Sri Lanka in HRW's letter follows:
Since the collapse of the ceasefire between the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lankan government in mid-2006 and the resumption of major military operations, civilians have borne the brunt of the fighting. More than 1,000 have reportedly “disappeared.” Several hundred thousand civilians have been displaced by the fighting. Human Rights Watch has long documented serious abuses by the LTTE, including attacks against civilians, targeted killings of perceived political opponents, and the use of child soldiers. In the past 18 months, there has also been a significant jump in abuses by government forces, such as indiscriminate shelling, extrajudicial executions, and forced disappearances. In addition, there is evidence that Sri Lankan government forces have stood by while pro-government armed groups have carried out abuses, including forcibly recruiting children into their forces. Members of the government security forces have long enjoyed impunity from prosecution; despite the creation of various new governmental bodies, there is little evidence that the Sri Lankan government is bringing the perpetrators of serious abuses to justice.
For these reasons, the Senate has proposed conditions restricting the sale and transfer of arms to Sri Lanka until the Sri Lankan government improves its human rights record and facilitates the creation of a United Nations human rights monitoring mission to help protect civilians threatened by the island’s escalating civil war. Human Rights Watch strongly endorses these conditions and believes that their implementation will help protect thousands of civilians and allow Sri Lankan civil society to operate more freely. It is important to note that the Department of State has publicly supported a strong UN monitoring mission and urged Sri Lanka to meet the conditions in the Senate bill. We look forward to your support for this measure.