COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE
4 - 22 May 1998
Concluding observations of the Committee against Torture
Committee considered the initial report of Sri Lanka (CAT/C/28/Add.3)
at its 338th, 339th and 341st meetings, on 18 and 19 May 1998 (CAT/C/SR.338,
339 and 341), and adopted the following conclusions and recommendations.
Lanka acceded to the Convention against Torture on 3 January 1994
but has not recognized the competence of the Committee to consider
communications made in accordance with articles 21 and 22 of the Convention.
Committee expresses appreciation for the report of Sri Lanka, which
is consistent with the guidelines for such reports, for the annexed
material and the introduction and replies by the delegation of the
State party to questions put by members of the Committee.
report, which was due in 1995 and was submitted more than two years
later, covers the period from accession to 21 November 1997.
Committee welcomes with satisfaction the following positive developments:
accession to the Convention during extremely difficult times for the
adoption of the Convention against Torture Act No. 22 of 1994 to give
effect to the Convention in accordance with the legal system of the
recent establishment of the Human Rights Commission with several regional
offices, including one in Jaffna;
unequivocal position taken by the Supreme Court as well as other courts
on the question of torture and the awards of compensation to victims
of torture under the fundamental rights jurisdiction of the Supreme
and other work carried out by the International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC) and the participation of the medical profession in such
recent accession by the State party to the First Optional Protocol
to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
State party's readiness to cooperate with the Committee in order to
comply with the Convention;
support of victims of torture as expressed by both donations to the
United Nations Voluntary Fund for the Victims of Torture and support
to the Centre for Rehabilitation.
and difficulties impeding the application of the provisions of the
Committee takes note of the following:
serious internal situation faced by the State party, which however
in no way justifies any violation of the Convention;
(b) A very
low per capita income;
fact that for years in the past police officers appeared to be immune
Committee is gravely concerned by information on serious violations
of the Convention, particularly regarding torture linked with disappearances.
Committee regrets that there were few, if any, prosecutions or disciplinary
proceedings despite continuous Supreme Court warnings and awards of
damages to torture victims.
Committee notes the absence, until recently, of independent and effective
investigation of scores of allegations of disappearances linked with
Committee noted that, while the Convention against Torture Act 22/94
covers most of the provisions of the Convention, there were certain
question of the admissibility under the emergency regulation of confessions
is also a matter of concern, as well as the absence of strict legislation
governing detention consistent with international norms.
Committee urges the State party to review Convention against Torture
Act 22/94 and other relevant laws in order to ensure complete compliance
with the Convention, in particular in respect of: (a) the definition
of torture; (b) acts that amount to torture; and (c) extradition,
return and expulsion.
255. The Committee furthermore recommends that the State party:
the emergency regulations and the Prevention of Terrorism Act as well
as rules of practice pertaining to detention to ensure that they conform
with the provisions of the Convention;
that all allegations of torture – past, present and future –
are promptly, independently and effectively investigated and the recommendations
implemented without any delay;
continuing to remedy, through compensation, the consequences of torture,
give due importance to prompt criminal prosecutions and disciplinary
proceedings against culprits;
the necessary measures to ensure that justice is not delayed, especially
in the cases of trials of people accused of torture;
the Human Rights Commission and other mechanisms dealing with torture
prevention and investigation and provide them with all the means that
are necessary to ensure their impartiality and effectiveness.
Committee urges the State party to declare in favour of articles 21
and 22 of the Convention.
Committee would be remiss if it did not acknowledge that the Sri Lankan
delegation made every effort to make the dialogue with the Committee
fruitful, so that the State party might be helped to put an end to
violations of the Convention.