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Prison Conditions Poor, Overcrowded; Detainees Tell Stories Of Sexual Assault And Torture

Sri Lanka Updates
1. Government Amplifies Prevention Of Terrorism Act In Sri Lanka
2. Under New PTA Regulations, 11 Muslim Groups Banned in Sri Lanka
3. Government Begins Framework For Anti-Conversion Laws
4. Unlawful PTA Allows For Detention Up To 18 Months Without Trial Or Charge In Sri Lanka
5. U.S. Congress Introduces Bipartisan Resolution On Sri Lanka To Seek Justice And Accountability 
6. Government Moves Forward With Burqa And Niqab Ban
7. Res 413 Has Been Sent To The U.S House Foreign Affairs Committee
8. European Parliament Threatens To Pull GSP+ Status If PTA Not Repealed
9. UNHRC Chief Says Government Policies Have Targeted Muslims
10. Sri Lankan President Pardons 94, Including Convicted Murderer
11. China’s Oppression Of Muslims Could Be Influencing Srilanka
12. PTA Detainee Hejaaz Hizbullah Has Been Declared A Prisoner Of Conscience
13. Threat Of Intergovernmental Militarization Looms
14. Right To Protest Under Threat As 42 Arrested
15. Rapporteur Says That De-radicalization Regulations Could Lead To Silence Of Those Who Criticize Government
16. Covid Burial Site Already Reaching Capacity As Additional Space Confirmed
17. Opposition Party Accuses President Of Becoming Authoritarian
18. UN Special Rapporteur Says PTA Detainee Hejaaz Hizbullah Has Been Wrongfully Connected To Easter 2019
19. Prison Conditions Poor, Overcrowded; Detainees Tell Stories Of Sexual Assault And Torture
20. President Rajapaksa meets with UN Secretary General Antony Guterres
21. BBS Monk Thero Makes Hateful Comments About Muslims On Television
22. India, China, And Sri Lanka Are Connected In Targeted Oppression
23. Justice Minister Sabry Says PTA Is Unlikely To Ever Be Abolished

Fifteen Tamil political prisoners were tortured for two years according to a new report, released by the International Truth and Justice Project. Over the course of this period, they were beaten, suffocated with petrol-soaked plastic bags, sexually assaulted, and burned while in both police and military custody. This report has also been taken to the United Nations Human Rights Council, which began Monday, September 13.

The prisoners were one woman and 14 men. They had been detained for taking part in commemorations for those killed in the Civil War, had been volunteers for Tamil political parties, or received money from overseas. As with many other detainees in Sri Lanka, none of them had been charged with any crimes. The survivors are now all taking asylum in the United Kingdom. The prisoners were released after their families had paid bribes to authorities.

As well as torture, prison conditions are overcrowded. With capacities of 11,000, many hold over 32,000 detainees.

Human Rights Lawyer Yasmin Sooka, who co-wrote the report said that there is brutal torture in Sri Lanka and the government isn’t doing anything about it. Sooka also said that torture by security forces needs to be a an international priority topic when the UN discusses Sri Lanka.

Without evidence, Keheliya Rambukwella, Sri Lanka’s Health Minister and a senior government spokesperson said that allegations of torture and abuse came from opposing interests and that they were not true. The majority of the detainees had medical evidence to support their claims, however.

Lohan Ratwatte, State Minister of Prison Management and Prisoner’s Rehabilitation resigned after receiving death threats because he had threatened to kill ethnic minority prisoners. He threatened to kill two Tamil prisoners in Anuradhapura prison and also forcibly entered another prison in Colombo with friends. Ratwatte had called forth the two detainees, ordered them to kneel in front of him and pointed his gun at them.

On September 15, the Core Group of Sri Lanka voiced its concerns on the country’s human rights progress. This includes accountability, PTA detentions, and increased limitations on civil society areas. They mentioned the disappearances of youths from 2008-2009, surveillance, intimidation of journalists, and retaliation against those peacefully protesting.

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Sri Lanka’s political detainees tortured in custody: Rights group
Sri Lankan prison minister resigns over prisoner threats
Sri Lankan prison minister resigns over prisoner threats
Rights group releases report detailing torture by Sri Lankan police and military
UNHRC Session Core Group raises concern on current HR development in SL

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