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Arbitrary detentions, torture, rape by Sri Lankan security forces continued in 2015 - US

Human rights violations by Sri Lanka's security forces reported in 2015 include harassment, arbitrary detention, torture and rape, according to the US Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices.

The report, released by Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday, details several reported violations from the Tamil-dominated North-East of the island and said widespread impunity for the crimes committed during the armed conflict and other crimes committed following the end of the conflict, particularly for cases of torture, sexual violence, corruption, and human rights abuses, continued.

"The major human rights problems reported during the year included harassment of civil society activists, journalists, and persons viewed as sympathizers of the banned terrorist group the LTTE as well as arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, rape, and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence committed by police and security forces," the report says.

The report notes surveillance of Tamil civilians and seizure of private land. It also said there was "evidence of government-aided settlement of Sinhalese families from the south in traditionally Tamil areas".

See the full report here.

Speaking at the release of the report, Secretary Kerry said challenges that need to be overcome remain in Sri Lanka, despite "important democratic gains".

"[We] have seen important democratic gains in such countries as Tunisia, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Burma, though in each there are challenges that still need to be overcome. But we are working closely with each of those countries in efforts to help meet those challenges," he said.

Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Tom Malinowski said the US would encourage reconciliation and justice in Sri Lanka, in line with the resolution it co-sponsored at the UN Human Rights Council.

"In Sri Lanka, we’ll be encouraging reconciliation and justice in keeping with the joint resolution its government co-sponsored with us at the UN Human Rights Council," he noted.