Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Written Evidence


Written evidence submitted by Asian Human Rights Commission

Re: Situation in Sri Lanka calls for urgent action

  The Asian Human Rights Commission wishes to bring to your notice a rather serious situation developing in Sri Lanka following the killing of the High Court judge in Colombo on 19 November 2004. With the upsurge of protests arising against the killing unfortunately the government is making attempts to divert the whole issue into "a campaign against crime" which in essence means giving license to the police to do what ever they like under the pretext of controlling crime. As a part of this intense campaign the death sentence has been reintroduced within a day. It is obviously a move to create the impression that the government is trying to do something about the situation. In fact given the virtual collapse of the criminal investigation capacity this only means allowing any forms of illegal acts without any controls. The target group is not serious criminals but mostly citizens, particularly the poor and those persons who have made complaints against the law enforcement agencies in the past. Particularly in the last two years there is an increase in the number of complaints against police torture. Many cases are pending in High Courts against police officers. These cases are of those who have withstood enormous pressure and refused to withdraw their cases. These persons and the human rights organisations in Sri Lanka that protect them will be the targets in the coming days and months. The attached papers explain the situation to some extent.

  The Asian Human Rights Commission requests you to pay serious attention to what is developing at the moment and to make an effective intervention through your good office to save lives and to prevent even further degeneration of the rule of law in Sri Lanka.

Basil Fernando

Executive Director

Asian Human Rights Commission

22 November 2004


 
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