[JURIST] Following an Associated Press (AP) article published [AP report] Wednesday, Sri Lanka wrote [text] Thursday in a letter to the New York Times that it will investigate allegations of torture and rape of 50 Tamil individuals by police offices and military officials.
The AP report contains interviews and photographs with 20 Tamil men who claim they were raped, tortured and branded while in custody of Sri Lankan law enforcement. The report does not identify any of the individuals as they all stated they feared for the safety of friends and family. All 20 men interviewed by AP are now seeking asylum in Europe.
The men claimed that at the time they were taken into custody and tortured they were attempting to revive the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a separatist rebel group that has also been identified [SATP site] as a terrorist organization. The LTTE fought against government forces for decades before government forces neutralized the organization in 2009.
In the letter, the Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, Prasad Kariyawasam [official website] stated, "The Government of Sri Lanka strongly condemns any act of torture, and will ensure that allegations of torture committed in the country will be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law." Kariyawasam went on to state that the National Unity Government [backgrounder], which was formed in 2015, is dedicated to the protection of human rights and has already taken a number of steps to prevent torture within the country.
Sri Lanka's human rights record has been a cause of international concern in recent years. In January a Sri Lankan panel recommended [JURIST report] that the nation temporarily adopt a hybrid court with both local and international judges working in tandem to adjudicate war crime allegations stemming from the nation's civil war. Last year a UN rights expert said that Sri Lanka was still torturing suspects [JURIST report] seven years after the conclusion of the civil war. The UN originally reported [text] that war crimes may have been committed in the Sri Lanka civil war in September 2015.