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SL took minimal steps to punish officials who committed human rights abuses: US report

24 Apr 2024 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

By Ajith Siriwardana  
Sri Lanka took minimal steps to identify and punish officials who may have committed human rights abuses, the 2023 report issued by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour on Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Practices has alleged.  
The report said that significant human rights issues such as arbitrary or unlawful killings, including extrajudicial killings, torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions and arbitrary arrest or detention were reported.   
“There were several reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings, including extrajudicial killings, during the year. There were multiple deaths in police custody, with many incidents following a similar pattern. Many deaths occurred when police took suspects to the alleged crime scene as part of an investigation or claimed that suspects attacked them during interrogation or tried to escape,” the report added.   
The report said the government released on bail dozens of suspects held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act while police also issued new guidelines to respect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex persons and stop arrest and harassment of transgender persons.   
The report mentioned that in March the government indefinitely postponed local government elections, citing a lack of funds.

“The authorities continued to cite the PTA, ICCPR Act, and penal code to arrest and punish critics of the government and deter criticism of government policies or officials.   
The report alleged that the law provided criminal penalties for corruption by officials, but the government did not implement the law effectively. “There were numerous reports of government corruption during the year,” the report said.   
“Corruption remained a significant and continuing problem, including at the highest levels of government. International companies frequently reported requests for bribes on matters ranging from customs clearances to government procurement,” the report said.   
Referring to the Easter Sunday attacks, the report said there was little progress during the year in the cases of 25 individuals charged with perpetrating the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks.