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Sri Lanka's Genocidal War - '95 to '01
"(Sri Lanka) security forces rounded-up some 2,500 Tamils in Colombo after imposing a 12-hour curfew without warning on 6 January. They were paraded before masked informers and over 90 people were detained for further investigation...
International NGOs continue to express concern over arrests of Tamils. Amsterdam-based Sri Lanka Working Group (SLWN) says that Tamils from Sri Lanka’s north-east region continue to face the risk of arrest in Colombo and detention for several years, without trial. The conclusion of the SLWN follows case studies of nine Tamil asylum-seekers deported from Western countries.
Arrests and detention are arbitrary and extension of detention by the Magistrate’s Court is generally without fully considering the grounds of suspicion.
Suspects are sometimes released after the Supreme Court has determined that the detention is illegal. But due to shortage of specialised lawyers and high costs, many detainees cannot initiate a fundamental rights action in the court.
The SLWN says that the introduction of the amendment to the Immigrants and Emigrants Act in July 1998 has heightened checks of deported asylum seekers, at the Colombo airport. The amendment increases punishment by a huge margin, disallows bail, suspension of sentence or conditional discharge, provides for mandatory sentencing and removes discretion of the courts against the concept of a fair trial.
The Refugee Council has received lists of 49 arrests of Tamil deportees under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) or Emergency regulations, between August 1998 and March 1999 and 15 arrests of deportees under the Immigrants and Emigrants Act between November 1998 and March 1999. The Council has also received a list of another 83 arrested deportees, 49 of whom are Tamils and ten Muslims, under the Immigrants and Emigrants Act, whose cases were heard before the Magistrate’s Court, between October and December 1999. The deportations were from several countries, including Germany, France, Poland and Norway.
A third list contains the names of 22 Tamils arrested under the Immigrants and Emigrants Act at the Colombo airport while attempting to go abroad. Human rights agencies which compiled these lists say that as a result of official secrecy surrounding deportations, in Sri Lanka and other countries, preparation of a complete list of deportees arrested has become impossible...."
(British Refugee Council publication Sri Lanka Monitor, December 1999)