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Sri Lankan forces 'raped' Ta

Post  Panda on Tue 26 Feb - 22:28

26 February 2013 Last updated at 12:34

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Sri Lankan forces 'raped' Tamils in custody, study

Human Rights Watch wants
security force members to be held criminally liable
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Sri Lankan security forces have
committed crimes of sexual violence against ethnic Tamils in state custody, a
new Human Rights Watch report says.

study focuses
on cases of alleged rape of men, women and minors detained
between 2006 and 2012 because of their suspected links to Tamil Tiger

It documents 75 accounts of alleged sexual abuse and torture, saying most of
them are backed by medical evidence.

Sri Lanka's government has dismissed the report as "rubbish" and "lies".

At least 100,000 people died during the 26-year war between government troops
and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fighting for a separate homeland.
The Tamil Tigers were defeated in 2009.

Both sides were accused of human rights abuses throughout the conflict and
particularly in its final stages, when thousands of civilians were trapped in a
thin strip of land in the north of Sri Lanka as fighting raged around them.

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HRW study: Key recommendations

  • Investigate allegations of rape and other sexual violence by Sri Lankan
    security forces
  • Prosecute those responsible for these crimes
  • Abolish detention without charge or trial
  • Lift access restrictions for NGOs
  • Release individuals held without charge under emergency or anti-terrorism

The report comes during a session of the United Nations
Human Rights Council in Geneva, which is expected to discuss a resolution
critical of Sri Lanka's human rights record and the army's conduct during the
last phase of the war.

'Unlawful tool'

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says sex crimes committed by government security
forces "sharply increased" following a ceasefire breakdown in 2006.

Most of the abuses were politically motivated, according to the report.

"Rape was one of the unlawful tools used by the military and police against
suspected LTTE members or supporters to gather intelligence during the fighting
and immediately after the conflict ended in May 2009, as well as to obtain
information about any remnants of the LTTE since then, whether in Sri Lanka or
abroad," it says.

The findings focus on 75 cases of alleged rape or torture of 31 men, 41
women, and three boys aged under 18, all arrested for suspected links to Tamil
Tiger rebels.

In one of the accounts, a woman said she was raped just over a year ago in
the Colombo office of the Criminal Investigation Department.

In another case, a former rebel who surrendered in 2009 said a metal rod and
metal balls were inserted inside his penis and had to be surgically removed
after he escaped from Sri Lanka.

A third man said he was raped, beaten and hung upside down when he was 17
years old.

Sri Lankan government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella dismissed the report as
"total fabrication".

"If they are making allegations they should give us the medical evidence so
we can see if we've investigated," he told the BBC.

"[The allegations are] beyond any criminal activity, designed to tarnish the
image of the country, total blatant lies. There's not 1% of truth in it."

HRW conducted the interviews over a 12-month period with former detainees in
Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, India, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

Hundreds of thousands of Tamils
were displaced during Sri Lanka's bloody civil war
The research was carried out secretly because of government access
restrictions, the organisation says. As a result, it was able to speak only to
ex-captives and not to current detainees, whose "fate is of urgent concern".

Based on the witness accounts, those behind the sex crimes are thought to
have included members of the Sri Lankan army, police, and pro-government Tamil
paramilitary groups.

"In all of the cases documented, the acts of rape and sexual violence were
accompanied by other forms of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading
treatment by state security forces," the report says.

"The continued large-scale deployment of the armed forces in former LTTE
areas of northern Sri Lanka, coupled with increased surveillance of civil
society groups, has stymied community responses to rights abuses including
sexual violence."

Based on its findings, the report has called on the Sri Lankan government to
investigate and prosecute "those responsible, including persons with command or
other superior responsibility, in proceedings that meet international fair trial

Other recommendations include abolishing detention without charge or trial;
granting humanitarian groups better access to the north of the country; and
releasing individuals held without charge under emergency or anti-terrorism
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