Wednesday, October 16, 2013

6 Steps Sri Lanka Should Take for Human Rights, But Will They?

This November, Sri Lanka will host the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) for the first time. In connection with that event, Amnesty International has launched a campaign called "Tell the Truth."

We want the Sri Lankan government to "Tell the Truth" about human rights abuses that occurred during the country's 26-year civil war and since the war's end in 2009.

We are calling on the government to take six concrete steps to improve the protection of human rights now in Sri Lanka:

1. Repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and abolish administrative detention;

2. Release all those arrested under emergency or anti-terrorism laws, unless they are charged with a recognizable criminal offense;

3. Guarantee access to a lawyer for anyone arrested;

4. Establish and make public a comprehensive registry of detainees including the date and place of arrest, detaining authority, place of detention (including all transfers), and whether the detainee has been charged wtih an offense or released;

5. Publish the 2006 Commission of Inquiry report on 16 "serious violations of human rights" - including the case of five students killed in Trincomalee, and accept international help to resolve outstanding cases; and

6. Enact an effective Witness Protection bill.

We've been asking the Sri Lankan government since June 26 to demonstrate their expressed commitment to human rights by taking these steps. But so far, we haven't gotten an answer. Will CHOGM come and go with no improvement in human rights in Sri Lanka?

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