The Sunday Leader

Concern Over Post-War Detainees

  • Amnesty International Continues To Push For Transparency

By Maryam Azwer

Human rights organisation Amnesty International (AI) has expressed concern for what it claims is the non-transparent detention of thousands of people arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
Speaking to The Sunday Leader last week, AI Researcher for Sri Lanka, Yolanda Foster said “What is of particular concern for Amnesty International is that they (those arrested under the PTA) remain detained despite the war being over.”
Previously, in a February 2011 report titled “Forgotten Prisoners: Sri Lanka Uses Anti-terrorism Laws to Detain Thousands”, Amnesty International said “Official statements confirm that over 1,900 people already arrested and detained under the act will remain in custody pending investigations.”
When asked if AI had recent information on how many people remained in custody, Foster said “That is very hard to answer because the government does not produce official lists of detainees.”
She also claimed that “These detainees were not presented before a magistrate, they had no access to legal counsel or any opportunity to legally contest their detentions; no charges were filed against them.”
Another issue that is a cause for concern, she said, is that “Quite a lot of people were placed in remand prisons and transferred without that information being passed on to their families.”
The issue of detainees remaining in custody has been raised in the past by other organisations and political parties, and has even been acknowledged by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
“Concerns with detention have been mentioned many times during hearings of Sri Lanka’s LLRC,” said Foster. “The LLRC has recognised the real problem of detention,” she said, adding that despite this a solution was yet to be implemented.

6 Comments for “Concern Over Post-War Detainees”

  1. Ali

    Just take one logical example:TNA (Tamil representative) have already got the list of missing person. Now they are asking the government to provide the list in custody after the war. For a long time the government is dragging to provide the information because the difference will confirm the number of dead civilians . If the government is confident about the “zero” casualty. They should release the list immediately.
    I suspect this number is going shock not only the UN, the entire world.

    • Said Hussein

      I totally agree with Ali. Sri Lanka has spoilt its image to entire world long time ago. It is no more democratic in all fronts. What we need is an immediate change of government who will bring law and order to the country. At the moment the country has gone to the dogs. People are not free and many people live with fear for state sponsored terror. There is no truth revealed by the government, there is no free media. No one is allowed to speak the truth. If anyone dare to speak out the “White Van will pick you up by force” and you will never hear of him again. The cost of living is beyond many people’s reach. The Sri Lankans are not having an easy time.
      We need the “People’s Power” to come forward and change the government
      as in many middle east countries. The next thing will be to bring those responsible for genocide and crime against humanity in front of justice.

      Said Hussein

  2. kudu

    Ali you are stepping right into the eye of the storm
    soon you will be on the list buddy

  3. Ian D.S

    We cannot and WILL not come clean on this issue. Using Prelates, Ministers, Cronies, to tell us that the government did not violate human rights during the war is like running with the fox and hunting with the hounds.
    How can the Asgiriya Mahanayake say no violation of Human Rights were committed or no civilian was Killed when carrying out these operations. These people should know when to shut up and when to speak without being like those fools who rush in where angels fear to tread and thereby loose the little respect the people have for them.
    The UNIVERSAL law is that EVERY ACTION HAS AN EQUAL AND OPPOSITE REACTION and NO man can escape that. HUMAN RIGHTS are there for the protection of all, as what happens to THEM today could happen to US tomorrow, so how do we react when the shoe is on the other foot?
    It is NOT up to the Rajapaksha brothers to decide WHAT rights are to be granted to the people and what RIGHTS are to be withheld.
    The continued imposition of EMERGENCY regulations is a violation of the RIGHTS of the people of this country as these regulations take away our RIGHT of EQUALITY. Thanks to a pathetic and ineffective opposition who thinks that abstaining from voting against the EMERGENCY means that you oppose it (despite it being used to suppress their rights) this emergency will be there s long as THIS and EVERY other government is in power.
    Getting that Kandian minister of MASS MIS-INFORMATION to routinely deny every accusation leveled only makes him the laughing stock as no one takes him seriously anymore.
    Whatever we may try to project piously NO war has EVER been fought in the history of MANKIND without violation of HUMAN RIGHTS and anyone who say,s it did not happen here is a lunatic. These are NOT issues that will fade away. Getting RUSSIA and CHINA (The 2 biggest violators of human rights in the world at present) to defend us at the UN or anywhere only goes to confirm the fact that we are guilty and it will be in our best interest to keep away from these two.
    No one in this country takes the LLRC seriously in this country or outside as it has a deeply flawed mandate and questionable representatives who are mostly HURRAH boys of this government. The 18th Amendment has further diluted the laws and the independence of KEY institutions of this country with the most pathetic being the Attorney General,s department which is responsible for impartial rulings, which has now descended to simply carrying out the orders of politicians of the government. Their bizzare rulings has made even the CJ squirm and finally come out with a statement against this department which has lost all credibility.

  4. raj

    it looks like Sri Lanka is a bad example to the world.

    • Said Hussein

      Raj is absolutely right. We cannot bring back the good image of the once so called Pearl of the Indian Ocean unless we have a proper democratic government with freedom of speech, freedom of movement and the freedom of expression restored immediately.

      Said Hussein

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