The UN Committee Against Torture should visit Sri Lanka and conduct an independent investigation into the continued abductions, torture and sexual violence committed by the security forces, a former member of the UN special panel has said. Indian-origin Yasmin Sooka is a member of a former UN special panel on Sri Lanka’s war with the LTTE. She heads the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP).
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Her call has come ahead of the UNCAT’s meeting in Geneva this week to examine torture in Sri Lanka.
“Torture and abduction are so systematic and entrenched in the DNA of the security forces that even a realignment of political parties in parliament and the new government under President Sirisena are not able to stop these crimes.
“It requires political will and a commitment on the part of the Government of Sri Lanka to carry out a comprehensive security sector reform programme which is sadly missing in Sri Lanka,” Sooka said in a statement.
She was one of three in the panel appointed by the former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to advise him on the alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka during the last phase of the war with the LTTE which ended in 2009.
Her International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) has collected testimony from 36 Tamil victims in three European countries, who have suffered abduction, illegal detention, torture or sexual violence at the hands of intelligence and security officers under the present Sri Lanka government.
“In 10 of these cases the victims have already been granted asylum, meaning their cases have already been found credible by foreign governments,” she said.
“Overall ITJP has more than two hundred statements from Sri Lankan victims of alleged war crimes and post-war torture and sexual violence who have fled the country. The orgnisation has also begun to identify some alleged perpetrators, Sooka said.
“I want the outside world to know that torture is still happening in Sri Lanka and the torture that I suffered,” said a young Tamil woman abducted in a “white van” and gang raped this year in illegal detention in the north of Sri Lanka.
“The international community, including the UN is under an obligation to ensure that the Government of Sri Lanka honours its commitments made in the Human Rights Council in regard to the transitional justice programme in Sri Lanka.
“Overlooking the ongoing violations is not doing either the Government of Sri Lanka a favour or the victims, whose suffering should not be swept under the carpet just because of political expediency,” Sooka added.