Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

16 November 2009

Amnesty International takes action for Sri Lanka displaced

Amnesty International takes action for Sri Lanka displaced
Activists and supporters of Amnesty International will launch a week of action on Monday highlighting the continued detention of thousands of displaced civilians in government camps in Sri Lanka.

Activists in more than 10 countries will take action as part of the Unlock the Camps campaign. Events include a ‘Circle of Hope’ in Canada, a street march and signature campaign in Nepal, a poetry reading in Switzerland and solidarity actions in  France, Germany, Mauritius and the United States.

Throughout the week, Amnesty International activists based in London and participating sections  will write blogs about the events taking place across the world..

Six months after the end of the war between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Sri Lanka continues to confine people who fled fighting in the north to closed displacement camps in uncomfortable and sometimes hazardous conditions.

Releases from the camps have increased in recent weeks. However, camp shelters have deteriorated as Sri Lanka has entered the rainy season, with funds for shelter repair running out.

This week John Holmes, lead advisor on humanitarian affairs to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, travels to Sri Lanka to assess the situation of the people in the camps.  

TRAPPED
Around 150,000 displaced people living in government camps in northern Sri Lanka are still being denied their basic human rights including freedom of movement. The military control whether the displaced can leave camp premises - even to seek medical care - and they are denied basic legal protections.

The government has widely publicised recent releases but Amnesty International has received reports that many people have been held by local authorities to determine whether they had links to the LTTE.

VOICELESS

Displaced people have been given no voice in decisions regarding their release, return or resettlement.

Families have received no warning about impending releases or been informed of conditions in their former homes. They have not been given clear information about their rights and obligations, legal status or procedures for tracing family members.
 
Humanitarian organizations have been prevented from talking to displaced people in the camps, obstructing their ability to conduct crucial human rights work such as providing legal aid or assisting with family reunification. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has not had access to the camps since July.

UNPROTECTED
Since the war ended in May 2009, many thousands of people detained in camps have been subjected to 'screening' by the security forces in an attempt to root out LTTE members.

An estimated 12,000 people (including children) suspected of links to the LTTE have been arrested, separated from the general displaced population and detained by the authorities in irregular detention facilities, such as vacated school buildings.

Amnesty International has received repeated, credible reports from humanitarian workers about the lack of transparency and accountability in the screening process, which is conducted outside of any legal framework. There are also increased dangers to detainees when they are held incommunicado.  
While screening is appropriate to ensure that LTTE combatants are not housed with the general camp population, proper procedures should be followed and the screening process must not be used as an excuse for collective punishment.  

Independent monitors (including the ICRC) continue to be denied access to sites housing adult LTTE suspects. Detainees have not been charged with any offence, and have been denied legal counsel and due process. Many are held incommunicado.
Take Action
Amnesty International has called on the Sri Lankan government to respect and protect the human rights of displaced people, including the rights to liberty and freedom of movement.

Read More

Looking back at the Sri Lanka week of action (Livewire Blog, 27 November 2009)

Canadians concerned about Sri Lanka (Livewire Blog, 24 November 2009)

Giving out solidarity buttons in Switzerland (Livewire Blog, 20 November 2009)
AIUSA says "Unlock the Camps in Sri Lanka!" (Amnesty International USA Blog, 18 November 2009)

Six months of suffering in the Sri Lanka camps (Livewire Blog, 18 November 2009)

Standing in solidarity with displaced people in Sri Lanka (Livewire Blog, 17 November 2009)
Sri Lanka: Open letter to Heads of Government attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, November 23-26 2009, Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago

Issue

Activists 
Armed Conflict 
Armed Groups 
Medical And Health 
Refugees, Displaced People And Migrants 

Country

Sri Lanka 

Region

Asia And The Pacific 

@amnestyonline on twitter

News

19 December 2014

A flurry of activity by UN member states to sign and ratify the global Arms Trade Treaty before it enters into force next week is another clear sign of the overwhelming... Read more »

18 December 2014

The rights of migrants are being trampled across the globe as they face economic exploitation, discrimination and racism in a range of countries.

Read more »
22 December 2014

Pakistan's reported plans to execute 500 more people are “deeply disturbing” and would do nothing to protect civilians from the conflict with the Taliban.

Read more »
24 December 2014

Pro-Kyiv volunteer battalions are increasingly blocking humanitarian aid into eastern Ukraine in a move which will exacerbate a pending humanitarian crisis in the run up to... Read more »

23 December 2014

Torture, including rape and other forms of sexual violence, suffered by women and girls from Iraq’s Yezidi minority who were abducted by the armed group calling itself the... Read more »