US rights report notes Sri Lanka’s slowness in transitional justice

US State Department mentioned arbitrary or unlawful killings by government or its agents in 2017

April 22, 2018 02:54 pm | Updated 02:57 pm IST - Colombo

A U.N.-led probe into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka. File photo

A U.N.-led probe into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka. File photo

Torture remained endemic throughout Sri Lanka in 2017, the US has said, highlighting limited progress made by the government in establishing additional transitional justice mechanisms.

The US State Department, in a report, mentioned arbitrary or unlawful killings by government or its agents.

“Torture remained endemic throughout the country,” the report said, adding that the detainees had complained of torture and mistreatment, forced confessions and denial of basic human rights.

“Excessive use of force against civilians by police and security forces also remained a problem,” it said.

“There were also reports of sexual abuse committed by government and security sector officials against wives who came forward seeking information about their missing husbands or against war widows who attempted to claim government benefits based on their deceased husbands’ military service,” the report added.

The government made limited progress toward establishing additional transitional justice mechanisms, the report said.

However, the arbitrary arrests and detentions have seen a drop compared with 2016.

“Police sometimes held detainees incommunicado and lawyers had to apply for permission to meet clients authorities reportedly released detainees with a warning not to reveal information about their arrests or detentions under the threats of rearrest or death.”

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