Special Rapporteur says torture still continues in Sri Lanka

The UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment Juan E. Méndez says torture still continues in Sri Lanka.

Speaking to reporters after concluding his visit to Sri Lanka today, Méndez however said that the number of torture related incidents have reduced when compared to the peak of the war.

Méndez and the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of the justice system Mónica Pinto conducted a joint visit to Sri Lanka from 29 April to 7 May 2016 to assess recent developments and identify challenges related to the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and to the independence of the justice system.

“We are encouraged by the recent steps taken by the Government to advance respect for human rights, including their support to Human Rights Council resolution 30/1 on ‘promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’,” said the UN Special Rapporteurs on the independence of judges and lawyers, and on torture.

“Sri Lanka is at a crucial moment in its history and we hope that our recommendations will contribute to setting out a path for the future that will be fully aligned with the international human rights obligations of the country,” the Special Rapporteurs added.

The human rights experts met with Governmental authorities, members of the judiciary and prosecution services, lawyers, civil society, the National Human Rights Commission, and victims and their families.

In addition to visiting Colombo, they spent several days in the different provinces of the country, including the Northern, North Central, Eastern, Central and Southern. Accessing places where persons are detained was a key component of the visit.

The Special Rapporteurs will each present a comprehensive report containing their findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in March 2017 and June 2017, respectively. (Colombo Gazette)