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Sri Lanka’s current legal framework perpetuates risk of torture - UN Special Rapporteur presents findings

The current legal framework in Sri Lanka perpetuates the risk of torture, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture told the human rights council in an interactive dialogue on Thursday.

Presenting the findings of his predecessor Juan Mendez, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment, Nils Melzer said:

“My predecessor also conducted a visit to Sri Lanka, jointly with the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers. The report found that while the practice of torture was less prevalent, and the methods used were less severe, than during the conflict, “a culture of torture” nevertheless persisted - particularly in the early stages of arrest and interrogation and against those suspected of being involved in terrorism or other offences against national security. The report further described conditions of detention amounting to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, owing to severe overcrowding, insufficient ventilation, excessive heat and humidity, and the denial of adequate access to health care, education and recreational activities. The report also pointed out that the current legal framework perpetuated the risk of torture and called on Sri Lankan authorities to ensure full compliance with international standards.”

The Special Rapporteur’s report on Sri Lanka was released in January and its findings labelled ‘devastating’ by human rights groups.