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Ex-LTTE cadre wins landmark case; SL strongly condemned by UN HR Committee

Ex-LTTE cadre wins landmark case; SL strongly condemned by UN HR Committee

05 May 2023 | BY Siva Parameswaran

Swiss doctors have told a former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadre that will be paralysed soon due to the injuries to his backbone caused by the alleged torture that he endured at the hands of the terror Police in Sri Lanka while in custody 14 years back, one of his attorneys has Tweeted.

The said former LTTE cadre only identified as VM in the legal documents has submitted to the United Nations (UN) Body (Human Rights Committee [HRC]) that he was tortured in 2009 before he fled to Switzerland for the safety of his life.

The Committee of 17 members has concluded that the victim was assaulted, tortured, and subjected to inhuman treatment while in detention and was denied the right to an effective remedy. “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) based rights have been violated. Accordingly, the State Party (the Sri Lankan Government [GoSL]) is obligated, inter alia, to take appropriate steps to: (a) conduct a thorough, impartial, independent, and effective investigation into the facts submitted by the author, (b) prosecute, try and punish those responsible for the author’s torture, and to make the results of such measures public; and (c) provide adequate compensation and appropriate measures of satisfaction to the author for the violations suffered”. Commenting further, the members of the Committee further said “The State Party (GoSL) is also under obligation to take steps to prevent similar violations in the future”. The UN Committee has also stressed that the GoSL should amend the legislation and statutes of limitations in accordance with international standards and by prescribing sanctions and remedies for the offence of torture commensurate with the gravity of such crimes and consistent with its obligations.

The GoSL has been given 180 days to reply to the measures taken to give effect to the Committee’s views. Also, any measures taken should be an effective and enforceable remedy, when it has been determined that a violation has occurred.

Apart from replying to them within the stipulated period, the GoSL has also been directed to publish their views and have them disseminated in the official languages, Sinhala and Tamil.

The Committee has also gone on record citing the “lack of cooperation by the State Party”.

In spite of constant reminders in 2018, 2019, and 2020 for the GoSL to submit its observations on the admissibility and merits of the complaint, there was no response. Even subsequent reminders to the State Party to reply on time were ignored, the Committee noted. “The Committee regrets that the State Party has failed to respond to these requests in a timely manner and to provide any information with regard to the merits of the author’s allegations”.

The fact is that the GoSL was not even prepared to look into the merits of the complaint when it was requested to examine all the allegations brought against them in good faith; which is obligatory under the accepted international norms [Article 4(2) of the Optional Protocol on such issues where allegations are made against the State).

In the absence of a reply from the GoSL seeking to make available to the Committee all the information at their disposal, the 17 members unanimously decided that “due weight must be given to the author’s allegations, to the extent that they are sufficiently substantiated”.

London, England, based Attorney who was part of the legal team of VM, Geeth Kulasegaram Tweeted “Ex-LTTE cadre won case at the UN HRC under the ICCPR where 17 Judges found Sri Lanka guilty of torture and rape, and ordered to punish the perpetrators and pay compensation”.

Human rights activists point out that even a UN body has taken nine years to arrive at a decision in a clear case of severe torture and abuse by the State, in this case, the GoSL.

VM filed his case with the UN HRC in 2014. VM filed a case alleging that he was abducted in January 2009, and subsequently tortured for his connection with the LTTE. Also, he was told by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) that he needed to work for the authorities as a “LTTE informant”, which he refused to do. Following his refusal, the brutality of the torture increased to inhuman levels. His statement that he left the LTTE in 2000 and was not in contact with them for over nine years at that time was not believed by the CID and they continued with their “usual treatment”. The victim, in his testimony to the UN, has stated that the CID officers hit him with a cricket bat and wickets on his hip and shoulders, inserted pins through his nipples, tied a nylon rope around his toes and pulled him upside down, and submerged his head under water up to 10 minutes. As the alleged torture continued over the next day, he was forced by a CID officer to sign a statement in Sinhalese, which he could not understand. While the victim continued to deny any current link with the LTTE, the torture by the CID continued unabated according to the UN documents. In his complaint, the victim VM has spoken about the brutalities that he continued to endure in the custody of the CID. According to him, he was hit with pipes, had sharp objects inserted into his anus, was forced into a freezer room apart from being subjected to electric shocks, and in sadistic brutality by the CID, had had a metal rod inserted into his penis. Taken to a military hospital, he had 18 stitches to his intestines. VM further alleges that even the doctor warned him not to say that he was tortured. Denied a Tamil interpreter, he was ultimately released after paying a bribe, the documents claim. After seven months, in July 2009, he was granted an entry visa to Switzerland and subsequently became a permanent resident and was granted refugee status. Swiss doctors diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder and erectile dysfunction and incontinence as a result of the torture and rape that he endured in Sri Lanka.

(The writer is a journalist and the World News Editor at The African Gazette.)


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of this publication.


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