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No fair trial for detained tiger suspects: ICJ

world Updated: Sep 27, 2010 18:15 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
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Thousands were being detained in Sri Lanka without proper access to a fair judicial trial and monitoring by international agencies, the International Commission of Jurists has said in a new report.

Calling it possibly ``the largest mass administrative detention anywhere in the world,’’ the Geneva-based legal and human rights watchdog said the government holding ``approximately 8000 individuals under administrative detention without charge or trial.’’

The report titled `Beyond Lawful Constrains: Sri Lanka’s Mass Detention of LTTE Suspects’ added that it was concerned that ``the Government’s ‘surrendee’ and ‘rehabilitation’ regime fails to adhere to international law and standards, jeopardising the rights to liberty, due process and fair trial. There are also allegations of torture and enforced disappearance.’’

The report comes the same week President Mahinda Rajapaksa spoke about political reconciliation with the minority Tamil community at the United Nations General Assembly in New York and also called for changes in international law to tackle terrorism.

While the government also says that emergency laws were needed to ensure Tamil Tiger remnants regroup, the ICG said there was not enough evidence to argue that mass detention of suspects was required under those laws.

The ICJ noted that access required for reliable and accurate monitoring by international agencies, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), had been denied. `` Political expedience and secrecy have tended to take precedence over legality and accountability,’’ it said.

It noted positive developments like in the case of 565 children who were identified by the security forces in May 2009 as associated with the LTTE were held in separate rehabilitation centres monitored freely by UNICEF, and all released by May 2010.

As of August 2010, approximately 200,000 IDPs had been returned or released from camps, with 70,000 that remain displaced or in transit sites near their home areas and less than 35,000 others that still await release from emergency sites.

``However, notwithstanding these positive developments, the Sri Lanka Government has not accepted that “rehabilitation” does not mean surrendees and rehabilitees are no longer entitled to due process and fair trial rights,’’ the 40-page report said.