2ND LEAD (Corrections)
ACHR: Sri Lanka, worst Human Rights violator among SAARC countries
[TamilNet, Saturday, 02 August 2008, 12:40 GMT]
Asian Center for Human Rights (ACHR), a New Delhi-based human rights watchdog, in a rights report covering the South Asian Association for Regional Cooporation (SAARC), released Friday, said "Sri Lanka ranks South Asia’s No.1 human rights violator," adding, "Sri Lanka’s human rights indicators must be considered within a context of very high levels of impunity which
tend to suggest a worsening over the human rights picture over the long term."
ACHR determination of ranking "is based on comparative assessment of records of the governments in 2007 on nine thematic issues crucial for enjoyment of human rights:
political freedom, right to life, judiciary and administration of justice, status or effectiveness of National Human Rights Institutions, press freedom, violence against women, violations of the rights of the child, violations of the rights of the minorities and indigenous/tribal peoples and repression on human rights defenders," the report said.
In ACHR's analysis, "Sri Lanka scored the highest negative points for the right to life, the rights of the child, attacks
on human rights defenders and violations of the rights of the minorities."
On press freedom, it [Sri Lanka] ranked No.2 violator only after Bhutan – which has no independent press – because of the
systematic attacks on the freedom of expression
and journalists, the report said.
"Discrimination lies at the heart of the problem and the introduction of restrictions on Tamils travelling to Colombo are a powerful symbol of government intent. The political ramifications of the exclusion - not least in terms of prospects for a peaceful settlement of the conflict - of an entire ethnic group from the nation’s capital are of deep concern," the report added.
Documenting that "540 persons disappeared across Sri Lanka from January to August 2007," the report pointed out that, "Tamils again suffered disproportionately from disappearances."
Criticizing the judiciary and the endemic lawlessness, the report said, "[t]he rule of law had weakened since the
appointment of Justice Sarath Nanda Silva, former Attorney General and Legal Advisor of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga as the Chief Justice. Justice Silva has a long legacy of political, rather than legal, judgements and has
regularly interfered with political processes in Sri
Commenting generally on the worst rights violators that included, in the order of decreasing rank, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan, Maldives, Nepal, and India, the report said, "[d]iscrimination is endemic, institutionalised and in many cases legalised. Human rights violations are integral to counterinsurgency operations conducted by the military in the sub-region. Human rights are routinely violated in police detention including the routine use of torture. National security laws tend to be poorly framed, routinely abused and used as blanket cover to silence legitimate dissent rather than tackle security. These are not the assertions of one organisation but repeatedly confirmed by national and regional and international NGOs and the various UN bodies established to monitor human rights."
Asian Centre for Human Rights is dedicated to promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the Asian region, according ACHR's website.