Since 2009, Sri Lanka has struggled to recover from its destructive armed conflict. The Government of Sri Lanka continues to systematically violate the rights of its people, AI says in a letter.
The Sri Lankan police continue to detain, arrest, and torture civilians and suspected former members of the LTTE in violation of the country’s international human rights obligations. But the government has failed to investigate or punish these violations. It has also failed to adequately address allegations of crimes under international law committed by its armed forces and the LTTE during the last stages of the conflict in 2009.
Now is a crucial time to raise India’s voice. In October, Sri Lanka will report its progress on human rights issues to the United Nations Human Rights Council as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). India is one of the three countries facilitating Sri Lanka’s presentation of their progress report at the Council. As a country with close ties to Sri Lanka, we are in a unique position to influence Sri Lanka to protect the rights of its citizens and ensure that those guilty of human rights abuses are held accountable.
Specifically, we recommend that the Government of India call on Sri Lanka to:
- Investigate and prosecute all allegations of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings; as well as enforced disappearances; torture; and arbitrary or extrajudicial detention, and bring the perpetrators to justice in accordance with international standards, in line with commitments made during the previous review, but not yet implemented.
- Initiate prompt and effective investigation of witness testimony and written submissions to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) that allege violations of human rights or humanitarian law;
- Repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act and abolish the system of administrative detention;
- Release all individuals arrested under emergency or anti-terrorism laws, unless they are charged with internationally recognizable crimes and remanded by an independent, fairly constituted court
- Release all detainees unless they are charged with internationally recognizable crimes and tried fairly;
- Implement the concrete human rights commitments contained in the National Human Rights Action Plan, and strengthen the National Human Rights Commission
In 2008, Sri Lanka stressed its commitment to many of the above objectives, but within months, they broke their promises. It is vital that India, as a powerful and influential neighboring country, establish its commitment to ensuring human rights protection for ordinary Sri Lankans.
India owes a duty to the people of Sri Lanka. We urge you to not let them down, the letter further added.