Sri Lanka Supreme Court stops forced Tamil evictions as president promises probe

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka [official website] stopped the forced eviction of ethnic Tamils from the capital city of Colombo Friday, calling the government "misguided" in its latest attempt to reduce attacks by the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [CFR backgrounder; LTTE website], or "Tamil Tigers." Later in the day, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse [official website] invited the evicted Tamils back to Colombo, promising a disciplinary probe against the police chief responsible. Early Thursday morning, police began systematically removing Tamils from their homes and hostels and bussing them to a detention center 160 miles away. A court official told AFP that the Supreme Court will hear an official complaint that this practice violates constitutional rights on June 22, but until then the practice was ordered to be stopped.

Numerous countries and groups have decried the forced removals. The United States said that although it "understands and supports Sri Lanka’s obligation to defend itself against terrorism", the evictions could only widen the ethnic divide [statement]. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] called the move blatantly discriminatory [press release], and said "nothing could be more inflammatory in Sri Lanka’s polarized climate." AFP has more on the court order and the promise of a disciplinary investigation.

 

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