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‘Rhetoric on reconciliation undermined by torture’ – FFT

The Sri Lankan government must turn “words into action” said Ann Hannah, head of International Advocacy at Freedom from Torture, warning that every new case of torture or harassment by security forces undermines Colombo’s rhetoric on reconciliation.

Responding to the release of a report by the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Torture, FFT said the release “demonstrates the need for a real political commitment from the Sri Lankan government to end torture”.

“Co-operation with UN human rights mechanisms only goes so far,” said Ms Hannah. “The government has to turn words into action; their rhetoric about reconciliation is undermined every time there is another new case of torture, mistreatment or harassment by state forces.”

Commenting on the upcoming UN Human Rights Council session, where a resolution on accountability in Sri Lanka is up for review, Ms Hannah said that “we hope that the Human Rights Council review of Sri Lanka’s progress on these issues in March will lead to renewed support from the government of Sri Lanka, the UN and Sri Lanka’s international partners, including the UK, for extensive security sector reform”.

“This must include a particular emphasis on dismantling torture structures and the creation of, as previously promised, an internationalised accountability process that has the confidence of survivors to end the culture of impunity throughout the security forces,” she continued.

“It is particularly encouraging to see a reminder for UN member states of their international obligations to protect vulnerable people from being returned to countries where they are at risk of torture. We have documented a number of cases where Tamils have faced torture on return from the UK and continue to call for the UK government to ensure that asylum policy reflects the risk for those returning with a real or perceived past connection with the Tamil Tigers, at whatever level and whether directly and/or through a family member or acquaintance.”

See more from FFT here.