AI wants Sri Lanka to ‘tell the truth’


war-crime-lankaThe Amnesty International (AI), ahead of the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), to be held in Sri Lanka in November has launched a campaign against the Sri Lankan Government.

The campaign titled ‘Tell the Truth’ is calling on the Sri Lankan Government to protect and promote human rights, in keeping with the values and principles followed by all countries under the Commonwealth membership.

As a part of the campaign, the AI is sending out a global signature petition calling on the Sri Lankan Government to implement a six-point agenda, before CHOGM in November 2013. The AI’s goal is to collect 10,000 signatures on the petition before 1 September 2013.

The letter to this effect has been addressed to President Mahinda Rajapaksa by the AI USA, Sri Lanka Country Specialist, Jim McDonald, requesting him to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act and abolish administrative detention among others.
The following is the text of the letter by McDonald to President Rajapaksa:

President Rajapaksa, As you prepare for November’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo, we recall the values and principles, which all Commonwealth countries have committed to. These include: The protection and promotion of human rights, freedom of expression and access to justice.

In line with these values and principles, we call on you to demonstrate before November that progress is being made to stop the systematic violation of human rights in Sri Lanka.
We ask you to:

Repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and abolish administrative detention; Release all those arrested under emergency or anti-terrorism laws, unless they are charged with a recognizable criminal offence;
Guarantee access to a lawyer for anyone arrested;

Establish and make public a comprehensive registry of all detainees including the date and place of arrest, detaining authority, place of detention, (including all transfers) and whether the detainee has been charged with an offence or released;

Publish the 2006 Commission of Inquiry report on 16 ‘serious violations of human rights’ – including the case of five students killed in Trincomalee, and accept international help to resolve outstanding cases;
And, enact an effective Witness Protection Bill.

If Sri Lanka is to be a credible member of the Commonwealth, it needs to fully respect Commonwealth values at home. This is your chance to show the world that the government is telling the truth and making every effort to improve human rights in Sri Lanka.
Jim McDonald