- Mar 21, 2009
Freedom from Torture has used forensic methods to document shocking evidence of ongoing torture in Sri Lanka – continuing for more than two years after the end of Sri Lanka's decades-long civil war between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the report published in UNHCR said.
"After I arrived in Sri Lanka and tried to leave the airport, two men stopped me, asked for my passport and asked me to come with them. They showed me their IDs – two people from CID [Criminal Investigation Department]. They took me out of a different entrance and pulled me inside a van. They started to ask questions about why I had come back to Sri Lanka – saying that I had escaped the first time but not this time. They tied my hands and legs and kicked me very badly.
"I was taken to a building. They asked questions like 'why have you come back again?, 'what did you do in the UK?', 'where is your brother?' [an LTTE member]. I said I had no contact with him.
They tortured me inside the room by removing my clothes and hitting me with burning irons. I was feeling a burning sensation all over my body. They kept me for two days and I found my body was all swollen. On the third day they put me inside the van. I thought they were going to shoot me.
Later I realised that my family had given them some money and because of that I was released." Rohan, Sri Lankan torture survivor Rohan was tortured on his return to Sri Lanka from the UK in early 2011. He was referred to Freedom from Torture (formerly the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture) several months ago when he escaped – on payment of a bribe by his family – and flew back
to the UK. During 2010, Freedom from Torture received 135 referrals for clinical services for
Sri Lankans, the vast majority of whom were asylum seekers or refugees living in exile in the UK. Around 100 of these referrals were for medico-legal reports (MLRs) documenting torture for use in the context of asylum claims, with a similar rate continuing in 2011.
Through the production of medico-legal reports, Freedom from Torture has used forensic methods to document shocking evidence of ongoing torture in Sri Lanka – continuing for more than two years after the end of Sri Lanka's decades-long civil war between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
While there is considerable evidence in the public domain of torture practiced during the final stages of Sri Lanka's civil wari, little information on the practice has flowed out of the country in the last two yearsii. This has been for a number of well-documented reasons including disappearancesiii, lack of access for humanitarian agencies to camps and 'rehabilitation' facilitiesiv, lack of witness protection for those testifying to the Lesson Learnt and Reconciliation Commissionv, as well as the intimidation of journalistsvi, civil society organisationsvii and doctorsviii.
This report, demonstrating that torture has continued in the post-conflict period in a variety of detention centres around Sri Lanka, plays an important role in helping to break the silence of the last two years, drawing on the testimony and forensic documentation of extensive physical and psychological sequelae of torture presented by a group of torture survivors who have fled to the UK.
This report calls for urgent investigation into ongoing torture in Sri Lanka and highlights steps which should be taken by the Sri Lankan government, UN and international community and UK government specifically to prevent the further torture of individuals at serious risk.
Key findings of the report
Through the detailed examination of evidence of torture which took place between May 2009 and early 2011, as documented in the case sample of 35 completed medico-legal reports prepared by Freedom from Torture, this report demonstrates:
Â· Torture perpetrated by state actors within both the military and police has continued in Sri Lanka after the conflict ended in May 2009 and is still occurring in 2011;
Â· Those at particular risk of torture include Tamils who have an actual or perceived
association with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE);
Â· A variety of different types of torture have been perpetrated in a significant number of locations around Sri Lanka during the post-conflict period;
Â· A wide range of different forms of torture have been used, often in combination, to
inflict severe suffering on victims of torture with devastating psychological and physical consequences;
Â· Many Sri Lankan torture victims are left with visible scarring attributable to both blunt force trauma and burns which suggests impunity for perpetrators of torture in Sri Lanka. "Many of us bear the marks of torture on our minds and bodies, but in Sri Lanka you can't express that you've been tortured.
If you show your scars to a doctor you risk them telling the authorities and you would likely be detained again." Saarheerthan, Sri Lankan torture survivor The 35 individuals whose medico-legal reports were reviewed come from a range of areas around the country and all report being targeted due to an actual or perceived association with the LTTE, often through family members, or an opposition political party. It has been widely reported that the LTTE forcibly recruited Tamils into membership and other support roles during the civil warix, suggesting that a very large proportion of the Tamil population is at risk of being targeted on this basis.
New Evidence of Ongoing Torture in Sri Lanka | Eelam eNews