Time to End Arbitrary Detention in Sri Lanka

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Sri Lankan policemen stand guard over prison

Sri Lankan policemen stand guard outside the main prison in Colombo (Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

Right now, hundreds of people are languishing in detention in Sri Lanka.  They haven’t been convicted of any crime; indeed, they haven’t even been charged with any crime.  Their detentions violate international law.  Many of them are tortured while in custody.  Some detainees have been killed.

More than three years after the end of Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war, security laws enacted to combat armed opposition groups continue to be used against outspoken, peaceful critics, including journalists, and others.

No one has been held accountable for these crimes. Impunity for human rights violations is the norm in Sri Lanka.

But this fall, Sri Lanka’s human rights record will be under scrutiny by the UN as part of the UN Human Rights Council’s “Universal Periodic Review” (UPR) procedure.  We have a chance to expose Sri Lanka’s shameful record of detention without trial and to pressure them to end it.

We need your help.

Please write to your Senators and Representatives.  Ask them to urge the Obama administration to highlight Sri Lanka’s practices of unlawful detention during the Human Rights Council’s UPR session on Sri Lanka.  The U.S. should make the following recommendations to the Sri Lankan government during this session:

  • Repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act and abolish the system of administrative detention.
  • Release all individuals arrested under emergency or anti-terrorism laws, unless they are charged with recognizably criminal offenses and remanded by an independent, regularly constituted court. Any trials must be held promptly and in regularly constituted courts with all internationally recognized safeguards provided.
  • Ensure that any arrest and/or detention is in strict compliance with Sri Lanka’s obligations under international human rights law, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (to which Sri Lanka is a party), and adheres to the 2006 decree of Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa by registering detainees and informing their families and the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission of the place of arrest.

Also, please send an online letter to the Sri Lankan government asking that they end their practice of unlawful detention without delay.

AIUSA welcomes a lively and courteous discussion that follow our Community Guidelines. Comments are not pre-screened before they post but AIUSA reserves the right to remove any comments violating our guidelines.

34 thoughts on “Time to End Arbitrary Detention in Sri Lanka

  1. What beautiful propaganda to vilify a Countrey fighting to gain normalcy after decades of suffering under terrorism ! Certainly like all countries we have the good and the bad in our leadership. But do stop this gross exagerations & attend to mor urgent situations like Syria, India etc .

    98 million Tamils are a great force & they are probably the greatest migrators in history. Thats how most of them came by boats to Ceylon looking for better pastures as they are doing now around the world !

    • Come on Daniel, do not show your stupidity herel. May be the Tamils might have come by boats to Sri lanka. But where did your ancestors come from. Learn from me that Amnesty International has the right to speak of human sufferings and immoral behaviour of governments in any part of the world.. Sri Lanka cannot be an exception. The atrocities committed in Sri Lanka by both the LTTE and the Government forces should be accounted and the government is answerable not for the attrocities committed by the LTTE but by the government forces. Let your government of Sri Lanka treat everybody as humans. or they will be punished in some way.

    • what a blunder these tamils have made to arrive by banana boats. what they didn't realise was that they were landing in a country inhabited by primitive savages called sinhalese.

  2. Those who are in detention are LTTE terrorists. Their suicide bombing and setting off bombs in public places killing 1000s of innocent civilians I am sure violated international and even Tamil laws. The3se terrorists are rehabilitated and released to the society in batches. Various interested groups, ngos may like and want them to be released and start terrorism again in Sri lanka but that is not going to happen. Sri lanka has taken steps to stop these INGOs entering and operating in Sri Lanka, however they are free to complain in the west and in Tamil Nadu ( Tamil home land in India).

    • dai sinhala pariah dog, tamil homeland is in the north and east and not in tamil nadu. is that clear to you, ignorant primitive savage dog.

      • Rama I think your venom and out of this world imagination are very good credentials to be not only a member of the AI, HRW etc sponsored by the west, but even a leader. Good luck, keep displaying your talent possibly learnt from the great LTTE leaders.

  3. What this writer says is that these people should be in Guantanamo and not in Sri Lankan Jails which are much better. These NGO losers need some money and Sri Lanka refused to pay these elements and they are upset.

  4. It is a well known fact that the anti Siri Lanka organisation in the west contribute hevily to the AI and their supporters in the south east , specially in India. Therefor It is not surprising that AI has taken the interest of these seperatist terrorists to heart. Perhaps AI should concentrate on Syria, Libiya, etc.

  5. AI and Govind Acharya should run to ASSAM in India where they just killed 32 burned houses and write about that. Indian news paper says 'Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi called up Gogoi to know the latest situation. An estimated 40,000 people have fled their homes looking for safer areas.' OMG Indian savagery ! Mr Govind Acharaya must be familier with this as he lives in India, may be news nor money doesnot reach him from Assam.

  6. Is this Amenistry International web site or Tamil Tiger Propagande website? How dare you write like this.
    Do you have any journalistic ethics? Where are the proof for each and every charge you make here? If this is the way Amenistry works this organization will be an another terrorist organization very soon.!

  7. Any Prison should be guarded by security Guards (by police or the Army), its not a big news. Terrorist held and pending charges- its not a big news. The big news is this news paper trying to make a big news out of this story- Sri Lankans are not fools….Remember we are the only country abolished, wiped out terrorism from this land, now you envy and no way you to digest that achievement but to give unwitting stores of Sri Lanka- you should visit Sri Lanka first to see from your eyes the transformation after wiping out Prabagaran and the terrorists.

  8. Tamils can only understand the terrorist language and therefore they are in detention for the right reasons. Now stop supporting LTTE terrorist. Is Amnesty is on LTTE payroll?

  9. Yes, AI is on LTTE payroll, Canadian LTTE recently donate huge sum of money to AI. Money went to weapons for terrorist LTTE now goes to AI. Show who are contributing to you AI.

  10. dai andy idiot, sri lanka is a terrorist pariah state. red china and porkistan are your best friends. just shut up and get on with your begging.

  11. kick out the primitive savage army out of north east. theae savage dogs molest children and rape women.
    when the primitive sinhala army was sent to haiti on peace keeping duty , they went and moleasted haitian children and raped prostitutes. what a savge jungle bunnies.

  12. All hard core terrotist of LTTE who had been killed large number of civiliin in SOUTH AND NORTH part of SRI LANKAN.Some of them are suciside BOMBERS,Not a single person detian in Sri lankan prison witthout LTTE terrorist.They are dedally TRERROIST IN WORLD .

  13. There is widespread arbtrary detention (with legislation empowering such conduct) in the USA, UK, Australia, China, Russia and a countless number of other countries. What is the incentive Amnesty International has to focus only on SriLanka and that too vastly exagerated to the level of misinformation to the world community to incite them against SriLanka, which has better democratic values and practices than the majority of the nations mentioned.?

  14. It does not really matter what AI espouses..There is no credibilty whatsoever for orgs like AI among vast majority of ordinary Lankans..They seem to have amnesia when it comes to suffering of innocent people for 30 long years from terrorists and thier funding hand the LTTE Tamil Diaspora..Which also happens to fund them and thier cahoots like Mr.Archarya as the well publicised incidents with CTG showed..Atleast HRW highlighted the exploitation and terror funraing done by these groups in the west,While AI was happy to have selective rights for the LTTE and thier agents,Not for the rest of the Lankan population consisting of all others..Human rights do not exsist for those,Sinhalese,non LTTE Tamil,Moor and Burgher's that were massacred in thier thousands by thier fundraisers according to Archarya,Zafiri or Foster..Go ahead AI,Collect the LTTE donations,Propagate them,Lobby neo liberal fringe politicians in the west,Sell third world made up miseries to the gullible west..Does'nt matter we live in peace and that no bloody thanks to you

  15. Sri Lanka is the only country where child soldiers, ex-terrorists. ex-combattents are being rehabilitated, given a 2nd chance to restart a new life, according to the principles of Buddha. Infact they can also take up political path if they so wish to. Look at the chief minister of the eastern province Mr.Pillian who was a child soldier for LTTE. Recently they are being selected for varios sports in the Sri Lanka’s national teams. Sri Lanka is the only country in the world where children who were carrying (with the blessings of pariyah NGOs from the west) are now proudly carrying pens and books, after having kicked these war-mongoring NGO’s out of the country. The president of Sri Lanka is one of the most popular leaders in the whole of Asia. 95% of the Sri Lankan population approve his policies. Any pariah NGO trying to get the hard-core terrorists out of the jails is only ANTI-DEMOCRATIC towards those innocent people of a small country whose voices are silenced by the western media. These pro-imperialist pariah NGO’s should instead talk about resettling entire population of CHAGOS islanders (just south of the maldives), who after being ethnic cleansed by NGO funding countries, are still herded for 40 years in temporary shelters Mauritius still seeking justice and their right to return to their own land. Looks like the NGOs are the biggest obstacle for world peace.

    • Canadian Tamil Congress does not represent the Canadian Tamils let alone the Tamil community..It is a organisation that had been under the scrutiny of the security services of Canada as a terrorist entity..Some of it's board member have infact been arrested for terror fundraising..After 30 years of financing suicide bombings,Child recruitement,Human shields and ethnic cleansing in the north of Sri Lanka..Those same people have resorted to wear the human right cloark after the 2009 defeat of thier racist terror campaign..Would like to ask Mr.McDonald to post atleast even a couple of reports where AL had critisised the LTTE or it's backers in western capitols for those atrocities over a period of 30 long years(Atleast HRW made a attempt)..In the same vain he had delightfully highlighted the poor justification of recieving funds from a front organisatin to the LTTE..Thanks

  16. Amnesty International has reported on and condemned human rights abuses committed by the LTTE for decades. In our documents about reported violations in the final months of the war, we described those committed by the government forces as well as those committed by the LTTE. A recent example is http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-release… An older example is our Sri Lanka report "A Climate of Fear in the East" which is available at http://www.amnesty.org/en/srilanka There are many other examples which could be cited as well.

    • So a couple of fleeting refferences of the LTTE in a couple of clearly biased articles against Sri Lanka justifies AI blatent bias and total contradictory explanation..Again the Canadian Tamil Congress is a entity that is under scrutiny of the Canadian law enforcement agencies thier officers have been raided many times band some of thier board members have been arrested for fundraising for a banned terrorists organisation..This is not your every day salvation army..This is a fundraising arm of one of the most ruthless terrorist networks in the worl according to the CIA not the Sri Lankan government..But for the likes of AI it does not matter where the money would have come from either if it's mere 50,000 openly or some of the millions covertly..So much for justification..

    • Btw yes ordinary citizens of the island do have issues with this regime..Yes all communities do need justice,reconcilliation and fair play but utter biased,blood money making organisations have no moral right on behalf of any Sri Lankan,We as a nation of all communities will find our own way..Just like we ended unthinkable terror we lived under for over 30 years..Not to whims and fancies of seperatist racist Tamil elements in the west nor thier beneficiaries like the AI..And to reiterate do your best AI,Propagate for your paymasters but there will be no impact on ordianary Lankans,You have no credibility left in this country

  17. 1. it is obvious from some of the comments that it is the work of possible PR firms trying to save the culprits and doing 'blame game'. For those who are crying AI is partial, the FACT is they have ALWAYS indicated crimes from BOTH sides.

    2. First watch the award winning British Channel4 part 1, then the counter-video by Sri Lanka, 'Lies Agreed upon', THEN watch Channel 4 part 2, it will be OBVIOUS who has been trying to fool ALL the innocent people of Sri Lanka (both Sinhalese and Tamils) ALL the time since 1948!!

    3. As a reminder, one can see the 'big picture' from what is Black July 83: http://www.blackjuly83.com/

  18. 5 years to invstigate war crimes. what a joke. it may even take longer than that because most of the sinhala monkeys look alike. primitive and savage sinhala monkeys are outcastes and shouldn't be allowed to mingle with civilised people. sinhala monkey team shouldn't be allowed to come to london. war criminal monkey rajapaksa shouldn't be allowed to sit with heads of government. this monkey if it needs be should be locked up in the toilet. on the whole sinhala primitive pariah race should be wiped out from the face of the earth.

  19. I'd ask that all those commenting follow the "Community Guidelines" for this forum; a link to the Guidelines can be found above. Some of the posts have violated the Guidelines and are inappropriate.

    • I'm afraid it's your violant racist seperatist benefactors that are incapable of having a decent discussion turning to the usual filth and abuse..But Alas what can AI do about it..money talks louder than words eh??
      Btw it's hilarious that whenever somebody speak out against obvious bias ..Certain sections here try and label others as PR agents or SL Govt spokspeople..One does not need to be a apologist to the regime to highlight facts..And it's condescending or even bordering on racism when orgs like AL construes that a bunch of brown people on a faraway tiny island cannot have selfrespect or an independent opinion..When thier sovereignity is at stake

  20. I definitely agree with this "Release all individuals arrested under emergency or anti-terrorism laws, unless they are charged with recognizably criminal offenses and remanded by an independent, regularly constituted court. Any trials must be held promptly and in regularly constituted courts with all internationally recognized safeguards provided" I would love to see more development.