The US based rights organization, Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a confidential letter has urged Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to continue pressing Sri Lanka for a meaningful and expeditious implementation of the Human Rights Council resolution.
The body has further requested Clinton to monitor the implementation of the resolution and be ready to take further action if the government of Sri Lanka continued to drag its feet without delivering justice.
On behalf of Human Right Watch, Brad Adams, Executive Director of Asia Division, sent a confidential four page letter to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and demanded she take tough action against the Sri Lankan Government. The letter was sent coincidently with two important events; Prof G.L Peiris’ Washington visit and releasing of the “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011”.
In this letter, Human Right Watch pointed out that since the March resolution at UNHRC was adopted the Sri Lankan Government has launched an aggressive campaign against the Human Rights Commission as a body, against the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and against some of its own citizens who publicly supported the resolution.
“In terms of concrete action taken to fulfill the resolution, little has been announced other than the creation of a high level implementation committee charged with implementing the recommendations of the LLRC. Even in this, the government has announced that the committee will not implement all the recommendations contained in that report or decide which to implement. Minister Peiris recently stated in the Sri Lankan Parliament that the decision on what recommendations to adopt and what not to adopt was a “political matter”, the rights organization letter added.
“Civil society and the media continue to be under threat. Several web-based media sites are blocked by the government and journalists critical of the government have been threatened. Although to date no harm has come to Sri Lankans who publicly supported the Human Rights Council resolution, threats against them by Minister Mervyn de Silva and the government’s inaction to take action against him sends a very strong message to all human rights activists and civil society in general” Human Rights Watch further disclosed.
Human Rights Watch also stated that they have documented recent cases of torture, including rape, of ethnic Tamils who have returned to Sri Lanka from abroad after their asylum applications had been rejected. “We have medical documentation backing eight cases of torture so far and we are in the process of documenting others”.
The organization insisted that Secretary of State Hilary Clinton urge the Sri Lankan Government to invite expert assistance of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and other UN human rights envoys to assist Sri Lanka in implementing the steps outlined in the Human Rights Council resolution, allow an independent international mechanism to investigate laws-of-war violations as recommended by the UN Panel of Experts appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and stop all torture and other ill-treatment by security forces, and in particular investigate alleged cases of torture against asylum seekers who are returned to Sri Lanka.
HRW also urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to press the Sri Lankan Government to investigate unresolved killings and disappearances, including the August 2006 killings of the Action Contre la Faim aid workers in Muttur, the January 2006 killings of five students in Trincomalee, the January 2009 murder of Sunday Leader Editor, Lasantha Wickrematunge, the January 2010 disappearance of journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda, and the December 2011 disappearance of human rights defenders Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and Kugan Muruganandan in Jaffna.
According to Brad Adams’ four page letter to Hillary Clinton, Human Rights Watch urged her to take all necessary steps, including criminal investigations, to end threats, harassment, and violence against civil society activists and journalists in Sri Lanka.
Interestingly Brad Adams’ four page letter to Hillary Clinton echoed with “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011”, which was released by the State Department last week.
The US State Department has harshly criticized Sri Lankan Government over grave human rights violations in their “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011” and the report pointed out that many disappearances, abductions, arbitrary arrests, media suppression and other serious human rights violations had links to the Sri Lankan Government.
Mendaka Abeysekera Reporting from New York