Sri Lanka Investigates UN Claims Of Police Torture

Sri Lanka Investigates UN Claims Of Police Torture

May 11, 2016 – Sri Lanka’s government today announced a probe into allegations police were sexually abusing suspects and still using torture seven years after the end of the island’s civil war.

UN human rights official Juan E Mendez said earlier this month that he had found “credible evidence” of detainees being tortured and disappearances since the end of the war in 2009.

The government pledged an investigation after ministers met to discuss Mendez’s allegations yesterday, spokesman Rajitha Senaratne told reporters in Colombo.

“We are going to investigate this and ensure that there is no room for recurrence,” Senaratne said, without giving details. Official sources said an internal police investigation was already underway.

Mendez, UN special rapporteur on torture, conducted a nine-day fact-finding mission in Sri Lanka earlier this month.

He said he had heard testimony that between 16,000 and 22,000 people had gone missing during the conflict and its immediate aftermath, and that police were still resorting to torturing suspects.

Suspects have been beaten with sticks or wires on the soles of the feet, suspended for hours while handcuffed, asphyxiated using plastic bags drenched in kerosene and hung upside down, he said.

In some cases, victims had chili powder thrown on their face and eyes and there were “sexual violations, including mutilation of the genital area and rubbing of chili paste or onions on the genital area”.

Mendez expressed hope that President Maithripala Sirisena’s new government would deliver on promises of accountability for war crimes and an end to rights abuses.

Sirisena’s administration, which took power in January last year, has promised to investigate rights abuses following allegations that up to 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians were killed by government forces in 2009 as they crushed rebel forces.