Amnesty slams torture under Sri Lanka emergency laws

Place: Sri Lanka | Courtesy: AFP
| Date: 20000721

COLOMBO, July 21 (AFP) - Torture by government forces in Sri Lanka has become more widespread following the introduction of new emergency laws by President Chandrika Kumaratunga, Amnesty International said.

In its latest report on Sri Lanka released Thursday, the international human rights group said that the number of reports of torture had increased since the emergency laws were tightened on May 3.

"In addition, the methods of the torture reported appears to have become more severe than before and there have been at least two reports of detainees dying in custody as a result of torture," the organization said.

Amnesty noted that the tough laws -- which give sweeping powers to security forces to arrest and detain suspects -- were brought in at a time when the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) guerrillas were advancing on the northern peninsula of Jaffna.

Incidents of torture and "disappearances" have tended to increase dramatically at times when government forces suffer set backs at the hands of Tamil Tigers, the rights watch-dog said.

Amnesty said a United Nations investigative panel had documented the cases of 12,000 people who were reported to have "disappeared" during the previous administration, but the practice of "disappearances" had continued under Kumaratunga's regime too.

"Amnesty International has received reports of at least 540 cases of 'disappearances' since the change of government in 1994.

"Far from complying with its obligations under international human rights laws the Sri Lankan government has instead further eroded the human rights guaranteed in human rights treaties with the emergency regulations."

There has been no immediate reaction from the government to the Amnesty report.