Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, August 17, 2007

Sri Lankan president takes a step backwards on human rights while foreign governments exert little pressure

In Sri Lanka, where the human rights situation has “deteriorated dramatically in the past couple of years,” a reporter from the International Herald Tribune calls for foreign governments to “set up a UN human rights monitoring mission… committed to protecting the rights of all Sri Lankans—Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim—from extrajudicial killings, abductions, intimidation and indiscriminate military attacks.”

In addition, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who worked with the United Nations and organized mothers of the “disappeared” in 1988 to 1990, “should remember his days as a human rights activist and confront the rampant abuses taking place on his watch.”

A relative calm ensued in Sri Lanka after a cease-fire agreement between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in February 2002, though the Tamil Tigers continued to recruit child soldiers and assassinate moderate Tamils. But since fighting resumed mid-2006, civilians have become the primary target—not just in direct clashes but in the insidious “dirty war” fought by both sides.

Human Rights Watch spent months investigating how security forces have subjected civilians to “disappearances,” indiscriminate attacks, forced displacement and restrictions on humanitarian aid.

The government has arrested journalists under recently introduced Emergency Regulations, which allow the authorities to hold a person for up to 12 months without charge. The government has done nothing to shut down child recruitment, and humanitarian groups face severe restrictions on access to the embattled northeast and even face threats.

In response to this downward spiral, foreign governments haven’t done much, as Sri Lanka has little strategic or economic importance to most countries.

To read the full article, click here.


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