Sri Lanka: Tamil Tigers are Still Killing with Impunity

At least 22 people with links to Tamil political parties opposed to the Tamil Tigers have been killed in politically motivated attacks since the government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers signed a cease-fire in February 2002. Many others have been abducted, their fate still unknown. In several instances witnesses have identified the perpetrators as members of the Tamil Tigers. All available evidence points to a systematic campaign by the Tamil Tigers to silence opposition voices.

Ingrid Massage, interim director of the Asia Pacific Program of Amnesty International, said:

'The use of political assassinations and violence threatens to seriously undermine moves towards fair and just government in Sri Lanka.'

Brad Adams, executive director of the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch, said:

'The end of the fighting in Sri Lanka has not meant an end to the killing. Members of Tamil political parties are being gunned down and the available evidence points to the Tamil Tigers.'

Human Rights Watch issued a briefing paper today (7 August) urging the Norwegian-led Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM) to aggressively investigate and make public its findings in cases of alleged political violence. In an open letter to be published on August 12, Amnesty International will call on the Tamil Tigers, the SLMM and the Sri Lankan police to take immediate action to stop these human rights abuses, and bring to justice those responsible for these crimes.

The Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission consists of about 50 monitors from Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland. To date the monitoring mission has interpreted its mandate narrowly. Although it has increasingly addressed complaints of abuse against civilians, especially abduction of Children's rights for recruitment and extortion cases, it has not pursued substantial investigations of alleged political killings.

Brad Adams continued:

'We are concerned that Norway may be reluctant to investigate these crimes for fear of compromising its role mediating talks between the Tamil Tigers and the government.'

Ingrid Massage added:

'While recognising the difficulties the police face in investigating these crimes, this does not excuse their failure so far to bring to justice those responsible.

' In addition the Tamil Tigers must immediately halt these killings, ensure its members abide by the provisions in the cease-fire agreement, and fully cooperate in any investigations conducted by the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission.'

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