Bloggers Unite: Sri Lanka: “Disappearances”

The Sri Lankan government is responsible for widespread abductions and “disappearances” that are a national crisis, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. Human Rights Watch urged the government to reveal the whereabouts of the “disappeared,” immediately end the practice, and hold the perpetrators accountable.

Since major fighting between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) resumed in 2006, Sri Lankan security forces and pro-government armed groups have “disappeared” or abducted hundreds of individuals, many of whom are feared dead.

The 241-page report, “Recurring Nightmare: State Responsibility for ‘Disappearances’ and Abductions in Sri Lanka,” documents 99 of the several hundred cases reported, and examines the Sri Lankan government’s response, which to date has been grossly inadequate. In 2006 and 2007, the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances recorded more new “disappearance” cases from Sri Lanka than from any other country in the world.

“President Mahinda Rajapaksa, once a rights advocate, has now led his government to become one of the world’s worst perpetrators of enforced disappearances,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The end of the ceasefire means this crisis will continue until the government starts taking serious measures.”

Under international law, a state commits an enforced disappearance when it takes a person into custody and denies holding them or disclosing their whereabouts. “Disappeared” persons are commonly subjected to torture or extrajudicial execution, and cause family members continued suffering. An enforced disappearance is a continuing rights violation – it is ongoing until the fate or whereabouts of the person becomes known.

The vast majority of cases documented by Human Rights Watch indicate the involvement of government security forces – army, navy, or police. In some cases, relatives of the “disappeared” identified specific military units that had detained their relatives and army camps where they had been taken. In other cases, they described uniformed policemen, especially members of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), taking their relatives into custody before they “disappeared.”

via: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2008/03/06/slanka18203.htm

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