[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak [official profile, DOC; JURIST news archive] said Monday that torture was widespread and routine throughout Sri Lanka. Nowak visited Sri Lanka in early October and reported to the Third Committee [official website] of the UN General Assembly that torture has become pervasive in the country's counter-terrorism procedures. While Sri Lanka had attempted to reduce torture with its 1994 Torture Act implementing the international Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [texts], Nowak noted that only three people have been convicted under the legislation and described "credible" allegations that detainees were still routinely mistreated by police and coerced into giving faulty confessions. Nowak's report comes two weeks after Sri Lanka rejected a UN monitoring mission [JURIST report] supported by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official website].
The Sri Lankan government has been fighting the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [CFR backgrounder] since 1972. In August, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] accused [PDF text] the government of being responsible for a dramatic increase in unlawful killings and other human rights violations [JURIST report]. In June, the government started systematically detaining ethnic Tamils until the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka stopped the practice [JURIST report]. The UN News Service has more.