Detainees tortured in Sri Lankan prisons, says report; Colombo denies

Sri Lankan authorities are torturing political detainees in jails, Reuters reported, citing a human rights lawyer who has recently drafted a detailed report on torture in Sri Lankan prisons

Sep 11, 2021
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Detainees tortured in Sri Lankan prisons

Sri Lankan authorities are torturing political detainees in jails, Reuters reported, citing a human rights lawyer who has recently drafted a detailed report on torture in Sri Lankan prisons. The government has denied the allegation. The island nation has thousands of political detainees even after a decade of the end of its civil war. 

The report, prepared by the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP), a rights group,  alleged abuses in Sri Lanka, on the basis of testimonies by 15 members of the Tamil ethnic minority community. The detainees alleged that they were beaten, burnt, suffocated, and sexually assaulted by authorities over the past two years.

"We are dealing with a country where torture is savage, and there is no inclination on the part of the government to do anything about it," Yasmin Sooka, a rights lawyer who co-authored the report, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The lawyer also said the all this happened with the tacit approval from the highest level of the administration. 

Responding to the report, Keheliya Rambukwella, the health minister and a senior government spokesman, said, "We completely refute the allegations in this report." He also added these claims were also made in the past by “vested interests” but later turned out to be false.

The island nation has already been on the radar of the rights activists ever since the present government headed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa took charge. 

During the three-decade-long civil war--that ended in 2009, both sides, the government and the Tamil separatist group LTTE, were accused of committing heinous war crimes. 

Three of the 15 were members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). However, the report claimed they were all children at the time of the war. Detainees alleged that they were subjected to harsh treatment, including being suffocated with petrol-soaked plastic bags and penetrated with an iron rod.

Medical reports of the nine people also confirmed torture. Detainees fled Sri Lanka and later took asylum in Britain where they approached rights groups. The report came ahead of a crucial session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), scheduled to begin from Monday next week. 

Earlier, the UNHRC adopted a resolution condemning the country for abuses and mandated the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights to collect evidence of abuses. 
 
(SAM)