Flagrant Violations of International Covenants by the Sri Lankan Government

by M. Nadarajan

Successive Sinhalese majority Sri Lankan Governments have ruled the country under Emergency Regulations for 39 of the over 57 years since independence.  Of these, 29 years under Emergency have related to the ethnic problems with Tamils, according to the Tamil Center for Human Rights based in France with branches in the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Switzerland.  Numerous major human rights violations have taken place under cover of Emergency Regulations in flagrant violation of several International Covenants and Conventions.

Under emergency regulations the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) was promulgated.  International Jurist Paul Seigart has described the PTA as " the worst regulation in any civilized country, including South Africa."

Given below are some of the international covenants and conventions which have been violated:-

1. Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

(a) Preamble - re repressive laws
(b) Article 5 - re torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
(c) Article 7-- re equality before the law and equal protection
(d) Article 9 - re arbitrary arrest, detention or exile
(e) Article 13-- re freedom of movement and residence
(f) Article 15 - re denial of citizenship (up country Tamils)
(g) Article 21-- re disenfranchisement (up country Tamils)
(h) Article 26.1 - re right to education, and access to higher education on the basis of merit.

2. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

       Article 27-- re denial of the right to minorities to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their own language.

3. UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

       Article 3-- re prevention of discrimination based on race, color or ethnic origin, especially in the fields of civic rights, access to citizenship, education, religion, employment, occupation and housing

4. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

       Article 5-- re undertaking to prohibit and eliminate racial
discrimination in all its forms.without distinction as to race, color, or
national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, notably in the
enjoyment of the following rights:

(c) (vii) The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

5. UNESCO Declaration of the Principles of International Cultural Co-operation.

       Article 1-- re culture, which must be respected and preserved, and that every people have the right and duty to develop its culture

6. International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights.

       Article 1 (2) - re people being deprived of its own means of subsistence. (colonization and threat to land security)

7. Protocol Additional 1 to the Geneva Convention.

        Articles 53 and 54--re destruction of historic monuments, works of art, or places of worship of peoples, objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, foodstuffs, agricultural areas, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works for the purpose of denying them for sustenance of civilians (carpet bombing, shelling and aerial strafing).

8. UN Declaration on Social Progress and Development.

       Part 11--re continuous raising of the material and spiritual standards of living of all members of society, with respect for compliance with human rights and freedom (Economic repression).

9. Additional Protocol 11 of 1977 to the Geneva conventions.

       Article 14--re starvation as a method of combat.  Prohibition to attack, destroy, remove or render useless, objects necessary for the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies, and irrigation works (Economic blockade).

10. Joint Declaration by the UN Special Rapporteur on Expression, OSCE and OAS, 1 December 2000.

- Re threat to journalists, destruction of communication facilities, preventing independent and investigative journalism, freedom of expression and the free flow of information.

11. Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.

           Article 23--re free passage of all consignments of medical and hospital stores intended for civilians (Economic blockade).

12. UN Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances.

       Article 1 - re disappearance as a denial of the purposes of the Charter of the UN and as a grave and flagrant violation of human rights and freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

13. International Covenant on Civil and Political rights.

        Article 6.1--re every human being has the inherent right to life and no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.

14. UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions.

Re-- impartial investigations to determine the cause, manner and time of death, and person responsible. (Summary executions and disposal of dead bodies)

15. Protocol Additional 1 to the Geneva Conventions.

        Article 51 -- re the civilian population and individual civilians shall not be the object of attacks. Attacks by way of reprisals are prohibited.

16. Protocol Additional 11 to the Geneva Conventions.

        Article 76 -- re the special respect to women and protection against rape, forced prostitution and other form of indecent assault.

17. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

         Article V1 -- re trial and punishment by a competent tribunal (impunity).

18. UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.

        Principle 24(2)--re humanitarian assistance to displaced persons not being diverted.

19. International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.

          Article 11 - re punishment of the crime of Apartheid (defined as inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group over any other racial group).  Such crimes are defined in detail, and cover the persecution and dehumanization of Tamils by successive Sinhalese majority Sri Lankan Governments.


Posted September 13, 2005