26 May, 2022


Sri Lanka: Human Rights – Foreign Policy (+) Internal Policy (-)

By Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

After the election of the new government, Sri Lanka’s foreign policy has been to show positive attitudes towards the protection and promotion of human rights. In international forums and in public declarations, it has declared that it accepts the international law on human rights, that it is committed to enforcing international agreements on human rights, and that it is committed to a policy of reconciliation. On issues like torture and ill treatment, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has categorically stated at the Human Rights Council that everything would be done to enforce the Convention against Torture (CAT) and that the police and military would be given instructions to avoid torture and ill treatment, and that those who violate these instructions would be taken to task.

However, as far as internal policies and practices are concerned, the government has done nothing to improve the conditions of human rights in Sri Lanka. In relation to all the basic rights, such as freedom from illegal arrest and illegal detention, the right to fair trial, right against torture and ill treatment, and all other rights relating to personal liberties, there are constant violations and the government has not taken any policy decision to improve the situation.

It is basically linked to the issues relating to the basic intuitions of justice – that is, the courts, the prosecutors’ department (Attorney General’s Department), and the investigation divisions (the police). The implementation of human rights only happens through the functioning institutions of the administration of justice. The government has not taken any policy decision in order to improve the conditions of the judiciary, the prosecutors’ department and the police. From the point of view of budgetary allocations, the government has not made any increase of investments to reform the judiciary to enable it to administer justice speedily; or to improve the prosecutor’s department so that it could have an adequate number of prosecutors, who could help to speed up the justice process; and, as far as the police are concerned, no attempts have been made to improve the quality of the investigative services, which are the only means through which the frequent use of torture can be avoided.maithri-ranil-wijeyadasa-pic-via-wijeyadasa-rajapaksa-facebook

This also relates to the issue of enforced disappearances. The government has not made any attempts to introduce a law criminalizing enforced disappearances, as required by international law. Under international law, enforced disappearances are considered one of the most heinous crimes and the government, despite undertakings given internationally to create laws criminalizing enforced disappearances, has done nothing in order to enforce this. The fact that there is not even a draft of a bill shows that there has been no preparation at all for ensuring that enforced disappearances will be made a crime in Sri Lanka in the near future.

Additionally, the Minister of Justice has introduced an amendment to the criminal procedure whereby lawyers will be prevented from attending police stations to assist suspects. According to this law, the lawyers would only come to the police stations after the investigations stage is over and after statements have been recorded.

This is despite the fact that, almost daily, there are reports of severe cases of torture, some leading to custodial deaths and others leading to serious injuries.

The government has stopped the implementation of the law against torture, which is contained in CAT Act No 22 of 1994, which declares that any officer who commits an offence under this law would be punished with 7 years imprisonment and a Rs 10,000 fine. It is in the lawbook but, as a matter of policy, the law is not implemented.

Thus, the internal policy of the government regarding the improvement of human rights is so negative that it does not even implement the available law against the state officers who are the perpetrators of crimes. The policy of impunity is accepted and prevails within the country.

While this is happening, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called for a discussion with civil society organizations to ask for suggestions in order to improve the implementation of human rights in Sri Lanka, particularly to stop the use of torture and ill treatment. In fact, there is nothing very much that the civil society can suggest on this so long as the government has a policy of impunity and when the government also ensures that the administration of justice remains in a dysfunctional state by not making investments to improve these institutions.

All kinds of recommendations can be made by civil society, and they may look very nice on paper, but so long as the basic policy of the government is not to invest in the administration of justice or implement the existing laws against human rights abuses, all these nicely prepared papers would be nothing but deception.

What civil society should do is to question the policy of the government not to invest money in the improvement of the judiciary, in order to ensure speedy justice; the improvement of the Attorney General’s Department, so that it can overcome many of its publicly known defects; and in the improvement of the policing system, so that it can be modernized and become able to conduct its affairs without the use of third degree methods, and so that the quality of its performance will ensure the respect for rights. Until then, there will be foreign policy declarations about improving human rights alongside internal policies that defeat the very point of having human rights declarations at all.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 3

    Well, you have a point. Its an important point that people need to understand.

    So what have you done to educate people?

    You need to get on an empty box in front of the Pettah train station and scream like hell. When you get their attention let them know in clear concise language the problem they need to address.

    • 3

      Basil Good points, but please also write about ECONOMIC RIGHTS AND JUSTICE.
      Today there is no economic justice or ECONOMIC RIGHTS in Sri Lanka at this time and poverty and inequality rates a galloping and Mahinda Jarapassa and cronies will soon be back in the saddle as Ranil has been totally discredited by the Arjuna Mehndran scandal at the Central Bank.

      JO is right on the need to seize Mahendran’s assets and seal Perpetual treasuries and uses the funds from them to pay off some of the national debt. Bloody IMF which supposed to be in charge of Global govarnance should track the off shore bank accounts and ensure the funds looted from Sri Lanka are returned to pay off debt rather than loading VAT taxes onto poor people.

      Ranil and Sira are constantly globe trotting rather than addressing issues and cleaning up the corrupt Justice System that is headed by Wijedasa jarapassa who is in the pocket of the Avant Guard crooks and Gota Jarapassa.

      Sri lanka is stuck with a bloated military that aids and abets political corruption while the people pay for the tax free lifestyle and super luxury SUVs that are blocking the roads of the corrupt politicians!

      Sinhala Lanka is cursed by its so-called leaders (UNP and SLFP), who are corrupt and criminal – Sira, Ranil, Mahinda Jarapassa and all their cronies and family members. Just like Tamils cursed by their leaders – Prabakaran to Thondaman and Ponnambalam Jr.

      As in USA there is no alternative – TINA – Trump and Clinton are more of the same rotten establishment – the global 1 percent that has been looting the working people of the world with the help of the IMF. The joke is that IMF which is supposed to do global financial governance has legalized financial crime and is headed by a woman charged with massive corruption in France today!

      • 5

        “” Bloody IMF which supposed to be in charge of Global govarnance should track the off shore bank accounts and ensure the funds looted from Sri Lanka are returned to pay off debt rather than loading VAT taxes onto poor people.””

        “Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise.Once a word has been allowed to escape, it cannot be recalled.Fidelity is the sister of justice. Horace

        You fool yourself about IMF/WB both are private entities of America owned by a few.
        America has a treat with Swiss for terrorist only. thats how frauds get caught by the americans. Of course CIA does the Sh*t without approval even of flying to Surrey and picking a kid for hacking Pentagon. Government of Rajathuma got KP in this fashion from KL.

        It is not IMF duty or American duty to get Douglas out but India to request Interpol. It is the government of SL to get hidden assets but it is a FRAUD and all politicians are in your land. Independence 4th Feb???

        • 4

          In 2014, Lagarde was ranked the 5th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine.[7] She was re-elected by consensus for a second five-year term, starting 5 July 2016, being the only candidate nominated for the post of managing director.

          In her own words She a school teachers daughter and Angela Merkel catholic priest daughter are friends of music CD exchanges. She said being the first woman she needs an extension. Then Samanta Powers flew on Thursday before she said no once again to Lanka and had it approved for lanka under direct Obama Hussain orders- Largade had to approve and Powers had to concede . Who is Obama Hussain whats his pediigree? take it from there . Like painter boys son Barings Bank- today he is a celebrity.
          DR Ragu was to be the next IMF if the doors opend for non europeans but all asians would be prejudiced like for Dr Venkat double Dr Royal Societ- he still helps Indians because he believes in kindness- brahmin!

    • 2

      De Silva,
      If Basil F does what you have suggested, he will be immediately arrested, and “persuaded” to “make a statement” at a police station.

      The government will be so happy to have him incarcerated in jail, as, he is a “perpetual thorn in its side”.
      Basil F knows this.

      The entire ‘justice system’ in Sri Lanka, is tilted against the lawfully abiding citizen.
      The Minister/government have enhanced this state of “justice” dispensed by our judiciary by this latest amendment to the law, which requires/compels anyone arrested to “make a statement”, without the immediate presence of an attorney, in a police station.

      No amount funds disbursed to the “justice mechanism” will correct this state of affairs.

  • 4

    “”However, as far as internal policies and practices are concerned, the government has done nothing to improve the conditions of human rights in Sri Lanka. In relation to all the basic rights, such as freedom from illegal arrest and illegal detention, the right to fair trial, right against torture and ill treatment, and all other rights relating to personal liberties, there are constant violations and the government has not taken any policy decision to improve the situation.””

    Basil, Ignore the village Naxalite De Silva from Matara Galle Patte mukatiyo,- He better go and sit on a box of razor blades at Pita Kottuva and Kotuva (his new found refugee down under kalla tella)

    Sinha_Le and Great Gawd Budd for Xi and CPC – One people and One nation.
    Dalia Lama has retired and a commoner holds his place and Tibetan Buddhism is being hijacked- We have seen it before in the sculptures of Deccan Plateau and South India after Asoka passed away.Even before Chandragupta Mauyra and the footprint at Karnataka (he starved to death after retirement)
    Victor Hugo’s The hunch back of Notre-Dame.

    Has turned out to be nasty word, dirty word, smelly word, promoted by socialist living in a past having evaded the great men of pen to only satisfy their ego and greed.
    Single European Act of 1987 which gave rise to EU Services Directive that came into effect in 2006 with Anglo/American thunderous push- Blair Brown with G W. Bush taken for a sucker.(less men American and others WW have died than social workers son Obama Hussain term)
    (1986 Portugal and Spain joined the EC) The professional bodies of the nations objected to dumping all qualification within EU nations as equal (it’s not a question of haves and have nots but what you know and how you apply in practice) UK as usual with its outdated and old was lacking, Steering wheel, 230 volts, Feet Ins, time spent at theory and practice than association membership) So we affectionately call UK `The land of associations`- protest and contention like Cows.
    EU Services Directive Caused Brexit. (I will not go more because we in it thank god we are out)
    Basil, I saw your 83 poem but I was luckier and saw not only Kirillapone but much more though out Appe kolamba nagere even next to army brigadier homes.

    What you at Asia miss to see when you were blessed with a romantic man of nature and satire. – In 1907 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Rudyard was born in Bombay. Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936
    In a slightly different context, Kipling got it right: Human Rights!
    An Imperial Rescript

    With the even tramp of the army,
    Where no man breaks from the line,
    Ye shall march to peace and plenty
    In the bond of brotherhood – sign!

  • 0

    [Edited out]

  • 0

    Basil Fernando:

    [Edited out]

  • 3

    Humbug Human Rights :
    This interest all in the country and world.
    Hillary talks so much of human rights, gay rights, womens rights .
    But she wants to start WW3- Russia Syria BOMB. Putin is not afraid.

    Must Watch!! Hillary Clinton tried to ban this video’
    She pitied lankan women who were killed and had pity But did she mean it? No and turned back when PM Wick. spoke rudely to her.

    Published on 9 Oct 2016
    Hillary Clinton’s Strange Behavior: WHAT IS GOING ON? Shocking Video clinton works like a demon bill clinton faints 911 memorial bizarre interview hillary clinton president presidential race 2016 2017


  • 0

    [Edited out]

  • 0

    [Edited out]

  • 0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.