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Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012 - Sri Lanka

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012 - Sri Lanka

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The U.S. State Department's “Country Reports On Human Rights Practices” for 2012 - Sri Lanka
The U.S. State Department's “Country Reports On Human Rights Practices” for 2012 - Sri Lanka

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Published by: deranapics on Apr 20, 2013
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Sri Lanka is a constitutional, multiparty republic. President Mahinda Rajapaksa,who was reelected to a second six-year term in January 2010, and the parliament,which was elected in April 2010, share constitutional power. The government isdominated by the president’s family; two of the president’s brothers hold keyexecutive branch posts as defense secretary and minister of economicdevelopment, while a third brother is the speaker of parliament. A large number of other relatives, including the president’s son, also serve in important political ordiplomatic positions. Independent observers generally characterized thepresidential, parliamentary, and local elections as problematic. Elections werefraught with violations of the election law by all major parties and were influencedby the governing coalition’s use of state resources. Civilian authorities maintainedeffective control over the security forces. The major human rights problems were attacks on and harassment of civil societyactivists, persons viewed as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)sympathizers, and journalists by persons allegedly tied to the government, creatingan environment of fear and self-censorship; involuntary disappearances as well as alack of accountability for thousands who disappeared in previous years; andwidespread impunity for a broad range of human rights abuses, particularlyinvolving police torture, and attacks on media institutions and the judiciary.Other serious human rights problems included unlawful killings by security forcesand government-allied paramilitary groups, often in predominantly Tamil areas;torture and abuse of detainees by police and security forces; poor prisonconditions; and arbitrary arrest and detention by authorities. Lengthy pretrialdetention was a problem. Denial of fair public trial remained a problem, andduring the year there were coordinated moves by the government to undermine theindependence of the judiciary. The government infringed on citizensprivacyrights. There were restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly, association,and movement. While citizens generally were able to travel almost anywhere inthe island, there continued to be police and military checkpoints in the north, andde facto high-security zones and other areas remained off limits to citizens.Authorities harassed journalists critical of the government and self-censorship waswidespread. The president exercised authority under the 18th amendment tomaintain control of appointments to previously independent public institutions thatoversee the judiciary, police, and human rights. Lack of government transparency
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012United States Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
was a serious problem. Violence and discrimination against women wereproblems, as were abuse of children and trafficking in persons. Discriminationagainst persons with disabilities and against the ethnic Tamil minority continued,and a disproportionate number of victims of human rights violations were Tamils.Discrimination against persons based on their sexual orientation and againstpersons with HIV/AIDS were problems. Limits on workers’ rights and child laborremained problems. The government prosecuted a very small number of officials implicated in humanrights abuses but had yet to hold anyone accountable for alleged violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law that occurredduring the conflict that ended in 2009.During the year unknown actors suspected of association with progovernmentparamilitary groups committed killings, kidnappings, assaults, and intimidation of civilians. There were persistent reports of close, ground-level ties betweenparamilitary groups and government security forces.
Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
 There were reports that the government, its agents, or its paramilitary alliescommitted arbitrary or unlawful killings, but reliable statistics on such killingswere difficult to obtain, because past complainants were killed and some familiesfeared reprisals if they filed complaints.Among these arbitrary or unlawful killings, there were reports of suspects detainedby police or other security forces who died under questionable circumstances. Forexample, on April 15, police arrested Chandraisiri Dassanayake, a main witness ina human rights violation case against the Wadduwa Police, for possession of marijuana. He later died in a cell in the Wadduwa police station. In response, theinspector general of police transferred several officers from the Wadduwa station,including the officer in charge, to other police stations.While the overall number of extrajudicial killings appeared to decrease fromprevious years, killings and assaults on civilians by government officials was aproblem. For example, on February 29, Waligapola ruling party local councilorSabha Wasantha fatally beat Amila Pradeep Kumar. On March 12, Wasanthasurrendered to the Rathnapura police. The case continued at year’s end.
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012United States Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
In December 2011 chairman of Tangalle village council Sampath Chandra PushpaVidanapathirana and several in his group killed UK citizen and InternationalCommittee of the Red Cross (ICRC) worker Khuram Shaikh Zaman while he wason holiday at a resort in Tangalle. Zaman’s companion, a Russian national, wasbeaten, stabbed, and raped. She was transported to a local hospital in criticalcondition. Chandra Pushpa Vidanapathirana killed an elderly woman in Thalunnain the period preceding the 2010 presidential elections and was released ongrounds that police found him mentally ill. He was released on bail and on July 29was reinstated into the governing party.While some killings were criminal acts, others appeared to be politicallymotivated, targeting persons believed to be critical of the government. Forexample, on June 15, a group of men killed two supporters of the opposition party Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) at a campaign meeting in Katuwana. The groupof men opened fire on the meeting, killing Edirimannage Malani and NimanthaHeshan and injuring more than a dozen others. Eyewitnesses identified some of the gunmen, including Geeganage Amarasiri, an alleged underworld figure withties to the local government. On June 19, Amarasiri surrendered to the TangallaHigh Court, which released Amarasiri on bail. Amarasiri remained in remand, andhis case continued at the end of the year.Although the number of killings associated with progovernment paramilitarygroups declined from previous years, there were persistent reports that the EelamPeople’s Democratic Party (EPDP), led by Minister of Social Services and SocialWelfare Douglas Devananda, engaged in intimidation, extortion, corruption, andviolence against civilians in Jaffna. For example, on March 4, EPDP memberKanthasuwamy Jagadeswaran sexually abused and killed 13-year-old JesudasanLakshini. On March 16, the Kayts Magistrate Court remanded Jagadeswaran to Jaffna Prison.On March 14, police arrested ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) localgovernment member L. H. Dharamasiri for the rape and murder in February of Nayana Nilimini and her daughter Kavindya. Authorities removed Dharamasirifrom his position as secretary to the minister of state administration and homeaffairs for his involvement. Dharmasiri remained in remand at years end.Unknown actors suspected of association with progovernment paramilitary groupscommitted killings and assaulted civilians. There were persistent reports of closeties between progovernment paramilitary groups such as the Eelam People’s

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