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ICJ: Anti-Terrorism Laws Abused in Sri Lanka

by Reuters, March 2, 2007

The panel expressed concern over "extra-judicial killings, torture, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions" by troops in the Indian Ocean island nation.

It said the re-introduction of counter-terrorism measures and emergency laws, including a "wide arsenal of terrorism-related offences that can be used to criminalise anybody connected to any broadly defined terror suspect" had led to widespread and systematic rights abuses.

NEW DELHI - Anti-terrorism laws in Sri Lanka have led to widespread and systematic rights abuses, a panel of global jurists said on Friday, charging government forces of extra-judicial killings and torture. The panel was appointed in 2005 by the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists to investigate the impact of "terrorism" and counter-terrorism measures on the rule of law and human rights.

 

Welikada Prison, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Welikada Prison, Colombo

It concluded a visit to India on Friday where it met affected people, activists and government representatives from the region including Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the Maldives. The experts are due to visit Pakistan separately.

"Sri Lanka is a country where there is, really, a full-scale armed confrontation, which has provoked very serious violations by the protagonists," Arthur Chaskalson, the head of the team, said.

A two-decade-old ethnic conflict between Colombo and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels has escalated after the virtual collapse of a truce and about 4,000 people have been killed in the past 15 months alone.

Around 68,000 people have been killed over the past two decades.

The panel expressed concern over "extra-judicial killings, torture, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions" by troops in the Indian Ocean island nation.

It said the re-introduction of counter-terrorism measures and emergency laws, including a "wide arsenal of terrorism-related offences that can be used to criminalise anybody connected to any broadly defined terror suspect" had led to widespread and systematic rights abuses.

Chaskalson said the panel did not get an opportunity to meet Sri Lankan government officials.