Rights Group Urges Sri Lanka to End Detention Laws

Posted September 8th, 2011 at 11:11 am (UTC-5)
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An international human rights group says the Sri Lankan government continues to use abusive regulations to detain people without charge, despite its recent decision to scrap long-time emergency laws.

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Sri Lanka to repeal its detention laws and release thousands of people held under the legislation.

HRW's Asia Director Brad Allen said although the government announced that the state of emergency is over, it is holding on to the same “draconian” powers it had during the war.

Last month, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said the country would end strict wartime emergency laws that gave security forces sweeping powers of search, arrest and detention.

HRW says the move is a “bait-and-switch,” adding that some 6,000 people are still being held under the similar Prevention of Terrorism Act.

The Sri Lankan government first imposed a state of emergency some three decades ago, removing it only for brief periods when Colombo entered into peace talks with the rebels.

The scrapping of the emergency laws came just weeks before the U.N. Human Rights Council discusses the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.