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Torture 'widespread' in Lanka: UN

A UN investigator charges the Lankan Govt with inability to rein in "widespread torture practised by security forces".

world Updated: Oct 31, 2007 17:30 IST
TV Sriram

A UN investigator has charged the Sri Lankan government with inability to rein in "widespread torture practised by security forces" in their battle with Tamil Tiger rebels, an accusation that was promptly denied by the government.

"The high number of indictments for torture filed by the Attorney General's Office, the number of successful fundamental rights cases decided by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, as well as the high number of complaints that the National Human Rights Commission continues to receive on an almost daily basis indicates that torture is widely practiced in Sri Lanka," said Manfred Nowak, special rapporteur on torture for the UN Human Rights Council.

Nowak made this observation along with a list of recommendations following a week-long visit to Sri Lanka earlier this month. The UN official urged the international community to assist Colombo follow up on the recommendations.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's Human Rights and Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe refuted the allegations of Nowak.

"The Ministry of Human Rights strongly refutes any such conclusions which did not find any place in Nowak's preliminary findings," he said.

Nowak's usage of the term "widely practiced" was in reference to instances of alleged torture that he witnessed in diverse locations in the country and that such instances did not relate exclusively or predominantly to the conflict or conflict affected areas, Samarasinghe said in a statement.

Nowak told the UN General Assembly committee dealing with social, humanitarian and cultural issues, known as the Third Committee, that the high indictments for torture filed indicates it was "widely practised" in Sri Lanka.

First Published: Oct 31, 2007 17:26 IST