As Horrific Abuses & Sexual Violence against Men Continue, it is Time to End the Impunity of the Sri Lankan Security Forces

September 19, 2018

As Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena prepares to address the United Nations General Assembly next week, a new report by the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) reveals extensive and horrific use of sexual violence in post-war Sri Lanka.

Based on the deeply disturbing testimonies of 121 victims, Unsilenced: Male Survivors Speak of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Sri Lanka provides gruesome details of sexual violence experienced by male detainees between 2009 and 2017 – after the conclusion of the civil war. These testimonies not only shed light on the appalling actions of the state, but courageously break the taboos and silencing of male sexual violence survivors.

Unsilenced comes on the heels of an announcement made by President Sirisena last week that he plans to ask the UN to drop any war crimes charges against government forces and instead allow Sri Lanka to “amicably resolve” the situation itself. This came just weeks after the discovery of yet another mass grave in Sri Lanka’s North containing the remains of at least 100 individuals, including children. Earlier this summer another ITJP report revealed that alleged Sri Lankan war criminals have been deployed as UN peacekeepers in other parts of the world.

Nearly ten years after the war ended, the Tamil population in the heavily militarized Northern and Eastern parts of the country continues to live under the shadow of war, while the Sri Lankan army operates with impunity from war crimes. In March 2014, the UN Human Rights Council established an international investigation into allegations of crimes committed during and since the war. Despite the passage of a strong UN resolution in October 2015, the Sri Lankan government has failed to take any meaningful steps – making a mockery of its obligations.

“The factors that led the Human Rights Council to conclude that an international inquiry was necessary have not changed,” said Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute.  “As this report demonstrates, the UN Resolution cannot be the end of the international community’s responsibility to the people of Sri Lanka. The UN must reject President Sirisena’s attempts to have war crimes allegations against its security forces dropped. Instead, it must take further action to end the impunity of the Sri Lankan security forces, who continue to terrorize the Tamil population.”

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The Oakland Institute is an independent policy think tank bringing fresh ideas and bold action to the most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues of our time. In 2015, the Institute released the first independent report on post-war issues in Sri Lanka’s North and East. The Long Shadow of War detailed extensive human rights abuses taking place, particularly around continued displacement of the Tamil population from their lands, much of which is being used by security forces to run luxury resorts and other profit making endeavors. For more information on the Institute’s research and advocacy in Sri Lanka, please see: https://www.oaklandinstitute.org/country/sri-lanka