Nov 01, 2016

Torture is routine nature practiced island wide in Sri Lanka police detentions – Human Right Commission report

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Torture is routine nature practiced island wide in Sri Lanka police detentions – Human Right Commission report

Nov 01, Colombo: The Human Right Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) says based on the statistics at the Commission’s disposal, the Commission recognizes torture to be of routine nature that is practiced all over the country, mainly in relation to police detentions. In a report submitted to the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) for the review of the 5th Periodic Report of Sri Lanka, the Human Right Commission said the complaints received by the Commission illustrate that torture is routinely used in all parts of the country regardless of the nature of the suspected offence for which the person is arrested.

While the number of complaints of torture has been declining in the last three years from 600 complaints in 2013, the Commission has received 420 complaints in 2015 and 208 so far this year. The HRCSL says the prevailing culture of impunity where those accused of torture is concerned is also a contributing factor to the routine use of torture as a means of interrogation and investigation. The Commission as the National Human Rights institution submits the report for the review of the fifth periodic report of Sri Lanka by the Committee Against Torture in response to the call by treaty bodies. In 2007 the Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commission was downgraded to B status by the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions (ICC) for failure to adhere to the Paris Principles. Following the appointment of the new members to the HRCSL in late October 2015 by the Constitutional Council under the new government, the Commission is in the process of applying for A status.

Since being appointed twelve months ago the Commission has initiated a process of reviewing, re-structuring and reforming its institutional structures and processes, and strengthening its human resource capacity, which restricts its ability to submit a comprehensive report. The Commission says it requires the full support of all relevant authorities to effectively respond to complaints of torture and work towards its eradication.

“The Commission is of the view that currently there is political space to critique existing laws, systems, processes and practices, and to make necessary interventions for required reform.”

The UN Committee against Torture which is meeting in Geneva, Switzerland from November 7 to December 7 will review Sri Lanka on 15-16 November, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said. The Committee, which is composed of 10 independent experts, will engage in a dialogue with the government delegation. The Committee will publish its findings, officially known as concluding observations on December 7.

The Full Report of Human Right Commission of Sri Lanka can be downloaded here .