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UK group says it has torture evidence

2014 Oct 08

Freedom from Torture, the only organisation in the UK dedicated solely to the treatment and rehabilitation of survivors of torture, says there is evidence to back allegations of torture in Sri Lanka.

Dr Juliet Cohen, Freedom from Torture’s Head of Doctors who addressed the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva today during the review on Sri Lanka, said that Sri Lanka’s continued refusal to seriously engage with the UN Human Rights Committee on the extensive evidence of ongoing torture is both disappointing and frustrating.

“The Sri Lankan government’s blithe repetition of its zero tolerance policies, whilst expressing no commitment to the investigation of the reports of ongoing torture and sexual violence, is increasingly untenable in light of the evidence that Freedom from Torture and a number of other parties have presented to the Committee,” Cohen said in an emailed statement.

Freedom from Torture says its evidence, from a review of 90 medico-legal reports, indicates that torture – including, notably, burning as well as rape and other forms of sexual torture – continue to be practised throughout Sri Lanka by a variety of state actors including the police and military.

It said that the lack of due process reported in these cases, combined with the significant scarring evident in a high proportion of the cases, is heavily suggestive of impunity for perpetrators of torture in Sri Lanka. 73% of cases were burned with cigarettes or heated metal, 66% disclosed sexual assault and all victims described blunt trauma injuries. Evidence of psychological torture was found in all cases with devastating impact on mental health.

“Our evidence further indicates that Sri Lankan Tamils with a real or perceived association with the LTTE in the past continue to be at particular risk of torture, even if this association is at a low level and/or where it is indirect through family members. We are particularly concerned to note that Sri Lankan Tamils who return to the country, for example from the UK, appear to be exposed to on-going risk of detention and torture. We would strongly urge the Committee to take note of Freedom from Torture’s evidence and recommendations in their forthcoming Review with the State Party and in their Concluding Observations and follow-up actions.”

Meanwhile the Ministry of Defence (MOD) had earlier claimed that some Sri Lankans are tortured in Britain as part of a racket to ensure they obtain asylum in a foreign country.

In a statement on the MOD website, the authorities claimed that these activities are taking place in Britain under the eyes of democracy, rule of law and equal justice.

The statement exposes what it claims are locations where asylum seekers, with the advice of solicitors, get themselves scarred and burned.

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