The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has called on the Sri Lankan government to take concrete steps to implement its assertion of a zero tolerance policy on torture.
The comments by the Geneva-based rights’ organisation came ahead of the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT)’s concluding observations and recommendations on Sri Lanka due to be released tomorrow (November 25).
“The Sri Lankan Government’s commitment towards minimising torture must be seen as more than just a theoretical assertion of a zero tolerance policy,” Jan Borgen, Deputy Secretary General of the ICJ told the Daily Mirror.
“It must involve concrete steps such as implementing an effective and independent witness protection programme and establishing a good prosecutorial record through consistent and fastidious prosecutions of torture and ill-treatment. The fact that there have been only three convictions under the Convention Against Torture since its inception is not an encouraging sign and is indicative of the lack of political will to prevent, prosecute and punish torture,” Borgen said.
Felice Gaer, the Committee Expert who served as Rapporteur for the report on Sri Lanka, earlier noted that despite the report claiming that “at no time has the Government resorted to or acquiesced to acts of torture”, the Committee had received extensive allegations of torture and ill-treatment by the State party from all parts of the country. This included disappearances, cruelty and ill treatment by the police, harassment of humanitarian workers, human rights lawyers, journalists and ordinary persons, of secret detention centres and of deaths in custody.
The hearing on Sri Lanka took place on November 8 and 9 in Geneva. (Ayesha Zuhair)
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