(Srilankamirror) – The US State Department says unlawful killings by security forces and government-allied paramilitary groups are a major human rights problem in Sri Lanka, often in the predominantly Tamil areas.
The Department’s 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices says that unlawful killings by forces or persons tied to the government are regarded as politically motivated in many instances.
In addition, attacks on and harassment of civil society activists, persons suspected of being LTTE sympathizers, and journalists, by persons allegedly tied to the government created an environment of fear and self-censorship, the report says.
Releasing the report, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said these human rights reports United States Government makes clear to governments around the world that they are being watched.
“We are watching and we are holding you accountable,” she said adding that the U.S. makes clear to citizens and activists everywhere: “You are not alone. We are standing with you.”
According to the HR report, the Sri Lankan government prosecuted a very small number of officials implicated in human rights abuses but had yet to hold anyone accountable for alleged violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law that occurred during the conflict.
“Official impunity for a wide range of human rights abuses, particularly in cases of police torture, corruption, and attacks on media institutions, was a problem.”
It further says that during the year unknown actors suspected of association with pro-government paramilitary groups committed killings, assaults, and intimidation of civilians and there were persistent reports of close, ground-level ties between paramilitary groups and government security forces.
The report recognized that although enforced and involuntary disappearances continued to be a problem, the number of such disappearances appeared to have declined from previous years.
Many disappearances, it said, appeared to be politically motivated, but during the year there were also increasing reports of disappearances connected with extortion and other criminal activity, sometimes involving government actors.
Overcrowded prisons with poor conditions and lack of sanitary facilities in prisons were a major problem, the State Department report noted.
The Report recognized the government’s plans to relocate and expand several prison facilities and its collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross to modernize the prison system.
Although the law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, there were frequent reports of police randomly selecting and arresting victims and detaining them on unsubstantiated charges, the report noted.
Link for the report on Sri Lanka