Ceasefire has reduced human rights violations - Amnesty
[TamilNet, Sunday, 30 June 2002, 11:15 GMT]
Ending a two-week visit to Sri Lanka, Amnesty International (AI) delegates welcomed the positive engagement and cooperation from both the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on issues of human rights and the peace process. "The current climate is one of pragmatic hope," Derek Evans, head of the delegation said. "The cease-fire agreement has made a significant impact in reducing human rights abuses in Sri Lanka."
"The reduction in killings, torture, and abductions seen since the cease-fire will only last if practical measures to protect human rights are discussed, negotiated and promoted now."
During the first week of the mission AI delegates travelled to the Vanni region to meet with members of the LTTE leadership, including the head of the political wing Mr Thamil Chelvan. "The LTTE were very responsive to an ongoing dialogue on human rights and committed to access and transparency," Derek Evans said.
The delegates met with LTTE officials responsible for the judiciary and police forces. They were able to visit a prison at short notice where they spoke with inmates and made recommendations for improvements.
Discussions with the LTTE focused on the recruitment of child soldiers, executions, "disappearances", arbitrary detention, the return of internally displaced people, as well as the peace process.
In Colombo, delegates met with President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, and various ministers to discuss issues such as impunity, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, torture and rape in custody, and the peace process. The delegation also met with members of Parliament, representatives of international agencies, and a wide cross-section of civil society, including human rights groups, women's organizations, and business associations.
During its visit, AI urged both the LTTE and the government to seriously consider the human rights components of the peace process. "The move from conflict to normalcy requires the establishment of a clear and practical framework based on human rights," Derek Evans argued.
The Prime Minister and the LTTE both agreed in principle on the need for technical expertise on human rights to be made available at the forthcoming talks in Bangkok.
AI delegates engaged both parties on issues of truth and reconciliation, accountability and human rights monitoring, the protection of vulnerable groups and human rights standards for the interim civil administration in the northeast.