[JURIST] Human Rights Watch [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] Wednesday accused Sri Lanka [JURIST news archive] of creating a de facto internment camp [HRW press release] to arbitrarily detain more than 400 refugees fleeing areas of the country controlled by separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [group website; CFR backgrounder]. HRW rejected government claims that the detentions are meant for the refugees' own protection and called on the government to give aid agencies access to detainees. Reuters has more.
The Sri Lankan government has been sporadically fighting with LTTE since 1972 and has been widely criticized for ignoring basic human rights in the process. In January, the country's Supreme Court [official website] ordered the government to stop [JURIST report] the practice of detaining and searching large groups of civilians in LTTE controlled areas. The same month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour urged the government to continue to respect rights [JURIST report] in the region after the expiration of a 2002 ceasefire. In August 2007, HRW accused the Sri Lankan government of being responsible for a dramatic increase in unlawful killings and other human rights violations [JURIST report].