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Sri Lanka's Genocidal War - '95 to '01
Impunity remains serious concern says Amnesty
"The People's Alliance (PA) government has repeatedly proclaimed its commitment to human rights since it came to power in August 1994 and has introduced a number of safeguards to prevent torture and "disappearances". However, the Amnesty International delegation found that these grave violations of human rights are continuing... Amnesty International is concerned that the government is not living up to its stated commitment to human rights. Despite lobbying by local and international human rights organizations, including the Human Rights Committee and the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, the government refuses to amend provisions in several laws which fall far short of international standards and continue to facilitate torture, death in custody, "disappearances" and extrajudicial executions...
Impunity for those responsible for human rights violations remains a serious concern. Progress in a few court cases against members of the security forces charged in connection with "disappearances" and extrajudicial executions is slow; as are investigations into many other cases. Relatives of tens of thousands of people who were killed or "disappeared" over the last 13 years or so are still waiting for justice to be done...."
"In most cases, such as the reports of extrajudicial executions in May 1995 documented in Amnesty International's June 1995 report, local police investigations were announced without any independent investigative body being appointed. In other cases, internal army inquiries were ordered. The President assured Amnesty International, in a letter of 5 June 1995 written on her behalf by the Secretary, Ministry of Justice & Constitutional Affairs, that she would "if the circumstances warrant it ... have no hesitation in having the specific complaints ... referred to the HRTF for investigation and recommendations regarding follow up action such as judicial action against those responsible for human rights violations and the payment of compensation to those adversely affected."
When meeting the Secretary, the Amnesty International delegates requested information about any follow-up action taken and were told that she had none. Letters of September 1995 requesting this information from the Secretary, Ministry of Defence, the Commander of the Army and the IGP remain unanswered.
In some of the incidents described in this report, such as the rape of Lakshmi Pillai and the extrajudicial executions in Colombo in mid-1995 and at Kumarapuram and Kanniya in February 1996, the alleged perpetrators were arrested and initial charges against them were filed. The accused in all four cases were subsequently released on bail. The case against the two informants accused of raping Lakshmi Pillai was closed after one of the accused was killed by the LTTE and the victim, who had moved to another area of the country, failed to turn up in court, reportedly due to fear for her life.
Eight soldiers were identified in an identification parade held after the massacre at Kumarapuram. The magisterial inquiry has been concluded. The case is currently with the Attorney General awaiting a decision on indictment. There are fears for the safety of some key witnesses. Survivors allege that at least one high-ranking officer involved in the deliberate and arbitrary killings of 24 civilians at Kumarapuram has not been arrested and continues to be in charge of an army camp in the area. No action is known to have been taken against the Home Guards alleged to have accompanied the army personnel.
Combined with the government's attitude to the investigations of past human rights violations..., Amnesty International is concerned at signs that the government is dragging its feet in bringing to justice the alleged perpetrators. It fears that the government's stated commitment to bringing to justice the perpetrators of human rights violations may not be fully put into practice and that political and military imperatives will override its earlier stated commitment.
Moreover, the way in which the few investigations ordered were selected suggests that the predominant reason is the publicity created at the time. So, whereas the CID was entrusted with the investigations into the "disappearances" reported in Colombo in mid-1995, no such resources were allocated to investigate "disappearances" in other parts of the country." (Sri Lanka: Wavering commitment to human rights, Amnesty International London, August 1996 AI Index: ASA 37/08/96)
see also Impunity: Sri Lanka Attorney General obstructs justice says Sinhala judge