'Torture continues despite stringent laws' -HRC co-ordinator

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 26 June 2002, 18:57 GMT]
"Almost in every household in the Trincomalee district there would be a complaint of disappearance. Torture still continues in the island although necessary legislation has been enacted to end this humanrights violation against the humanity," said Ms V.Mathiaparanam, Co-coordinator of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka in Trincomalee at a one-day seminar held Wednesday.

The Family Rehabilitation Center (FRC) organised the seminar at New Silver Star hotel to observe the United Nations International Day in support of the victims of torture. Mr. E.T.Anton Balasingham, Trincomalee District Judge was the chief guest.

In his keynote address on 'Together against Torture for a lasting peace', Mr. Balasingham said "torture is the intentional infliction of severe physical or psychological pain or suffering for a specific purpose. Torture is used to obtain information or a confession, to punish, to take revenge, or to create terror and fear within a population."

Trincomalee District Judge Mr.Anton Balasingham (centre) with Attorney -at-Law Mr.K.Sivapalan and FRC counsellor Mr.Sathieskumar at the seminar. (Photo: TamilNet)
He said, "The aim of torture is not to kill the victim, but to breakdown his or her personality. The method of torture used is similar worldwide. Most techniques seek to prolong the victims' pain and fear as long as possible without leaving physical evidence. The consequences of torture reach far beyond immediate physical, psychological and social. Not only the torture victims, in many cases victims' friends and families are affected. The broader society may also be affected."

"Freedom from torture is a universal and fundamental human right for all and guaranteed under national and international laws. But acts of torture are committed against men, women and children every day. It is clear that the war against torture requires each of us to work together -individuals, organisations and governments-at local, national and global level," stressed Mr. Anton Balasingham.

He concluded, "work against torture requires action at many level; denunciation of perpetrators; redress and reparation for torture victim; training police and prison officials; developing and enforcing national and international legislation against torture; and promoting human rights awareness and education for all. Let us unite together against torture for a lasting peace."

Human rights lawyer Mr.K.Sivapalan speaking on 'Safeguards against illegal arrest and torture' pointed out that the Emergency Regulations (ER) was withdrawn by the State not on the pressure exerted by human rights organisation but following the exit of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress led by its leader Mr.Rauff Hakeem from the People's Alliance cabinet thus forcing the government to allow the ER to lapse as it could not muster necessary parliamentary majority to extend it.

"Likewise the present UNF government abandoned the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) following the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Liberation Tigers. It is sad to state that the two draconian laws ER and PTA were not in use today not because of agitation made by human rights groups in the island," Mr.K.Sivapalan said.

Mr.S.Sathieskumar, District Counsellor of FRC made the welcome address.


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