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US notes decline in human rights in Sri Lanka

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There had been a decline in human rights in Sri Lanka during 2006, the US State Department said in its report for the year released in Washington on Tuesday.

"The government's respect for the human rights of its citizens declined, due in part to the breakdown of the CFA," the report said.

CFA refers to the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE.

"Credible sources reported human rights problems, including unlawful killings by government agents, high profile killings by unknown perpetrators, politically motivated killings by paramilitary forces associated with the government and the LTTE, and disappearances," the US report said.

"Following the December 1 LTTE attempt to assassinate Defense Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa, the government strengthened emergency regulations that broadened security forces' powers to arrest without warrant and non-accountable detention of civilians for up to 12 months," it said.

LTTE's violations

"The LTTE continued to control large sections of the North and East and engaged in politically motivated killings; suicide attacks; disappearances; torture; arbitrary arrest and detention; denial of fair public trial; arbitrary interference with privacy; denial of freedom of speech, press, and of assembly and association; and the recruitment of child soldiers," the report noted.

The Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission (SLHRC) had reported 33 known abductions in Colombo district, with the ransom paid ranging from $23,251 to $558,035.

At year's end, the SLHRC was investigating 16,305 cases of involuntary disappearances caused by the Security Forces.

There had been no investigations, prosecutions or indictments of security forces personnel in such cases.

In 2006, the LTTE had killed scores of civilians, 531 police and security forces personnel, and more than 69 members of pro-government Tamil paramilitary groups.

The breakaway LTTE group led by Karuna, had killed 26.

The LTTE recruited 451 children, released 80 and rerecruited 52. The Karuna faction recruited about 200 children.

The number of people displaced by the war stood at 312,000.

433 held for abductions

The Inspector General of the Sri Lanka police, Victor Perera, told the media here on Tuesday, that 433 persons, including a number of policemen and security forces personnel, had been arrested since September last in cases of alleged abduction.

Over the last few days, 10 decayed bodies, with bullet injuries or burns, had been found in hideouts near Colombo and Anuradhapura, making human rights activists wonder if these were bodies of abducted civilians belonging to the Tamil minority.