Cablegate: Sri Lanka: Draft Submission for 2002 Annual

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: DECL: N/A
SUBJECT: Sri Lanka: Draft submission for 2002 Annual
Human Rights Report

REF: STATE 151191



Begin Text:

Sri Lanka is a democratic republic with an active
multiparty system. Constitutional power is shared between
the popularly elected president and the 225-member
Parliament. Violence, including at least 50 deaths, and
irregularities marred the December 2001 Parliamentary
elections in which the United National Front (UNF), a
coalition of parties led by the United National Party
(UNP), won a majority in Parliament for a 6-year term.
Chandrika Kumaratunga, head of the People's Alliance (PA)
coalition, won reelection in 1999 for a second 5-year
presidential term in a process marked by voting
irregularities and at least six election-related deaths.
The Government generally respects constitutional
provisions for an independent judiciary.
Due to the peace process, Sri Lanka has experienced a
dramatically improved atmosphere in 2002. One of the most
visible signs of the new national climate was the
profound and positive effect the peace process has had on
the human rights situation. Beginning in December 2001,
when the Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam (LTTE) announced unilateral ceasefires, the peace
process has picked up considerable momentum. Key events
included: in February 2002, the two sides signed a
formal ceasefire accord; in April, a key road connecting
Jaffna with the south was reopened; in September, taking
into account the fast progress of the peace process, the
government legalized the LTTE; and, also in September,
the two sides held their first round of peace talks in
Thailand. Among many other positive human rights-related
developments, the peace process also led to a sharp
reduction in roadblocks and checkpoints around the
country, the return of approximately 150,000 Internally
Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their points of origin in the
north and east, and to the opening of numerous
investigations into questionable actions by security
force personnel.

During 2002, the Government also released over 750 Tamils
held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). Several
of those released were part of the first Government-LTTE
prisoner exchange in September. No arrests have been
made under the PTA in 2002. Observers claim that the PTA,
like the Emergency Regulations (ER) repealed in 2001,
permitted arbitrary arrests of Tamils.

The past year was one of transition for the security
forces from an organization actively engaged in an armed
conflict to one taking part in a peace process. Although
some incidents of human rights violations occurred during
the year, the security forces generally respected the
rights of others. Prior to the December 2001 unilateral
ceasefires, the Government had fought the LTTE, a
terrorist organization fighting for a separate ethnic
Tamil state in the north and east of the country, for 18
years. The conflict claimed more than 64,000 lives. Major
milestones in the conflict in the recent past included:
In 2000, the LTTE began a buildup on the Jaffna Peninsula
and captured the important Elephant Pass military base;
in April 2001, government troops launched a major
offensive on the Jaffna Peninsula that resulted in heavy
casualties for its forces; and in July 2001, the LTTE
attacked Colombo's main airbase and international
airport, destroying numerous aircraft and placing
civilians at the airport at serious risk.

The Ministry of Interior controls the 60,000-member
police force, which is responsible for internal security
in most areas of the country, and has been used in
military operations against the LTTE. The Ministry of
Defense controls the 120,000-member Army (which includes
the Army Volunteer Force), the 17,000-member Navy, and
the 18,500 member Air Force. The more than 20,000 member
Home Guards, an armed force drawn from local communities
and responsible to the police, provide security for
Muslim and Sinhalese village communities near LTTE-
controlled areas. During the year, the Government
implemented programs to disarm various anti-LTTE militias
that previously had been linked with the security forces.

Sri Lanka is a low-income country with a market economy
based mainly on the export of textiles, tea, rubber,
coconuts, and gems. It also earns substantial foreign
exchange from the repatriated earnings of citizens
employed abroad, and from tourism. The gross domestic
product (GDP) per capita is approximately $837 (80,350
rupees). The population is approximately 18.5 million.
Real GDP growth was -1.4 percent in 2001. Growth during
the year is forecast at 2-3 percent. The decline in 2001
was attributed mainly to the worldwide economic downturn,
the July LTTE attack on Colombo's international airport,
and prolonged power outages throughout the country. The
economy is expected to recover slowly in 2002, aided by
economic reform and increased donor assistance.

The Government generally respected the human rights of
its citizens in 2002, but there remained problems in some
areas. Unlike previous years, there were no credible
reports of security forces committing extrajudicial
killings. The military and police, however, reportedly
tortured detainees. There was at least one report of a
death in custody and of a separate case of rape of a
woman while she was in custody.

Torture remained a problem and prison conditions remained
poor. There were no reports of arbitrary arrests.
The Government infringed on citizens' privacy rights, but
restrictions on the freedom of the press were eased
somewhat. In 2001, the Government stopped censoring
reporting on military and security operations. In
previous years, the Government had stringent censorship
regulations and on occasion security forces harassed
journalists and shut down newspapers critical of the
government. There were no reports of such harassment
during the year. The LTTE permitted controlled access to
uncleared areas of the country to journalists, in effect
lifting some censorship in the areas it controls. Some
LTTE-imposed restrictions remained on freedom of
movement, such as from Vavuniya to Jaffna.

Violence and discrimination against women, child
prostitution, child labor, and discrimination against
persons with disabilities continued to be problems in Sri
Lanka. Trafficking in women and children for the purpose
of forced labor occurs, and there is some trafficking of
women and children for the commercial sex industry. There
is evidence of a continued though declining international
interest in the country's children for sex trade. There
is some discrimination and occasional violence against
religious minorities, and institutionalized ethnic
discrimination against Tamils remains a problem.

In the past few years, the Government has taken steps to
address human rights concerns. In 2002 the Government
named a new chairman for the National Human Rights
Commission (HRC). In 2000, the Government established an
Interministerial Permanent Standing Committee and an
Interministerial Working Group on Human Rights Issues,
chaired by senior officials, to investigate human rights
abuses. At the same time, the Government established the
Prosecution of Torture Perpetrators Unit, under the
direct supervision of the Attorney General. Former Tamil
terrorist organizations aligned with the former PA
Government, who are suspected to still be armed have, in
a departure from previous years, not been implicated in
cases involving extrajudicial killing, and torture
although incidents of detention, and extortion were still
reported during the year.

The LTTE continued to commit serious human rights abuses
even after entering into a formal ceasefire accord with
the Government. The LTTE reportedly committed several
extrajudicial killings, and was responsible for
disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrest, detentions,
and extortion. Through a campaign of intimidation, the
LTTE continued to undermine the work of elected local
government bodies in Jaffna. On occasion, the LTTE
prevented political and governmental activities from
occurring in the north and east. The LTTE released all of
the military personnel it reportedly had in its custody
during the year. The LTTE continued to control large
sections of the north and east of the country. The LTTE
denied those under its control the right to change their
government, infringed on privacy rights, did not provide
for fair trials, used child soldiers, and discriminated
against ethnic and religious minorities.

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person,
Including Freedom From:

a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

Unlike in previous years, there were no credible reports
of security forces committing extrajudicial killings. On
July 19, 2001, government security forces killed two
persons during an opposition party sponsored rally which
the Government claimed was illegal (see Section 2.b.). On
January 28, 2001, naval personnel arrested
Kanapathypillai Udayakumar, a Tamil villager. The
following day his body was returned to his family. The
report on his killing states that he was strangled to
death. The naval personnel accused in connection with his
killing are in custody awaiting trial. On September 20,
2001, Sivagnanam Manohari, a Tamil living near
Batticaloa, apparently was shot and killed by air force
personnel while fishing. Her nephew, who was with her at
the time, was injured seriously. No arrests have been
made to date, but the incident is still under

The appearance of impunity remains a problem. Between
April 1995 and December 2001, several hundred persons
were killed extrajudicially by the security forces or
have disappeared after being taken into security force
custody. With the exception of the six security force
personnel convicted in the 1996 killing of Krishanthi
Kumaraswamy (a Tamil university student who was raped and
then killed) there have been no other convictions for
extrajudicial killings. Although there were numerous
cases in which military personnel may have committed
human rights violations for which they have not been
identified, the Government has passed indictments against
security force personnel in a number of high profile
cases; including the Bindunuwewa massacre and the Ranjani
rape and murder case (see below).

In December 2000, nine Tamil civilians were reported
missing in Mirusuvil after being arrested by the army
(SLA). One person escaped, and reported the incident to
police and the local magistrate. The escapee identified
two SLA soldiers as the perpetrators, and the soldiers
admitted to torturing nine civilians and murdering eight
of them. The soldiers identified the place of burial and
the bodies were exhumed. Nine soldiers later were
arrested for the torture and killings. The army commander
administratively punished the soldiers by having their
salaries withheld (see Sections 1.b. and 1.c.). The case
was transferred to the Anuradhapura Magistrate's Court
for adjudication in November 2001. At the end of
September 2002, a trial-at-bar was continuing with
expectations that indictments would be issued prior to
year's end.

In November 2000, four mutilated bodies were found in
Nilaveli. The killings were widely believed to have been
carried out by naval infantry personnel. The following
day Tamil civilians protested against the deaths claiming
that the naval personnel involved attempted to coerce
statements from relatives of the deceased that the dead
were members of the LTTE. Later, the bodies of the two
primary organizers of the demonstration were found. The
military investigated the incident. The commander of the
local navy base and other key military personnel were
transferred in June, but no one has been charged in
connection with the killings. No further action is
anticipated in this case.

In October 2000, while police allegedly looked on, 27
young Tamil males held at the Bindunuwewa rehabilitation
camp for former child soldiers, were killed by local
villagers; 15 others were injured. Police allegedly took
part in the killings and did nothing to prevent the
villagers from entering the detention camp. Violence
after the killings continued for almost one week before
police were able to restore order. The HRC stated that
the police were guilty of "grave dereliction of duty."
Three of the survivors were able to testify at a
Presidential Hearing, which met regularly throughout
2001. Many witnesses at the hearing criticized police
actions at the scene and during the initial
investigations. In 2001, all suspects in the case were
released on bail. At year's end, 10 police officers and
41 villagers were indicted and were standing trial.

In April 2000, gunmen in police uniforms killed the chief
suspect in the 1993 killing of prominent politician
Lalith Athulathmudali. There have been no arrests in
connection with this killing and at year's end none were

In 2000, the government ordered payment of compensation
to victims of a 1999 air force bombing that killed 22
civilians at Puthukkudiyiruppu.

In the past, some cases of extrajudicial killings were
reprisals against civilians for LTTE attacks in which
members of the security forces or civilians were killed
or injured. In most cases, the security forces claimed
that the victims were members of the LTTE, but human
rights monitors believed otherwise. In Thampalakamam,
near Trincomalee, in February 1998, police and home
guards allegedly killed eight Tamil civilians, possibly
in reprisal for the LTTE bombing of the Temple of the
Tooth a week earlier. The Government arrested police
officers and home guards, charging 4 with murder and 17
with unlawful assembly. At year's end 8 police officers
had been indicted and hearings were ongoing.
Crucial safeguards built into the Emergency Regulations
(ER) and the legislation establishing the HRC often were
ignored in the past by the security forces, especially
those provisions requiring receipts to be issued for
arrests and ordering the security forces to notify the
HRC of any arrest within 48 hours. Although security
force personnel could have been fined or jailed for
failure to comply with the ER, none was known to have
been punished for this while the ER provisions were in

Although the courts in 2000 ordered five soldiers
arrested for the 1999 gang rape and murder of Ida
Carmelita, a young Tamil girl, the case remained pending
at year's end. Various witnesses continued to testify at
hearings held during the year. Court hearings continued
in 2002.

At his sentencing for the 1998 rape and murder of
Krishanthi Kumaraswamy, a Tamil university student,
former Lance Corporal Somaratne Rajapakse claimed
knowledge of mass graves at Chemmani in Jaffna containing
the bodies of up to 400 persons killed by security forces
in 1996. The other five defendants corroborated his claim
of mass graves in the Chemmani area, where they allegedly
had buried between 120 and 140 bodies on the orders of
their superiors. Exhumations in 1999 yielded 15
skeletons. Two of the victims were identified as young
men who had disappeared in 1996. In late 1999, the
Government submitted its forensic report to a magistrate
in Jaffna; the report stated that 10 of the remains
showed signs of physical assault that led to their deaths
and that physical assault leading to death of the others
could not be ruled out. At the end of 2001, 13 of the
bodies had not been identified. Rajapakse and others
named a total of 20 security force personnel, including
former policemen, as responsible for the killings. The
remaining unidentified bodies underwent DNA testing for
identification purposes. The Attorney General's office
has indicated that it was not satisfied with the
inconclusive initial results and is currently searching
for funds to provide for a more detailed test. At year's
end, the case was still pending. All suspects in the case
have been released on bail.
The case against eight soldiers and one reserve police
constable arrested in February 1996 in the massacre of 24
Tamil villagers in Kumarapuram came to trial in September
1997. In November 1998, six of the soldiers were charged
with murder. The case continued throughout the year with
the next court hearing scheduled for February 18, 2003.
The case of 22 STF members arrested on suspicion of
killing 23 Tamil youths at Bolgoda Lake in 1995 went to
trial in June 2000. Three police officers have been
indicted in connection with the murders, one of whom has
fled. As of September 30, 2002, the main witness in the
case was residing outside of Sri Lanka. The hearing
continued at year's end.

The PA Government came to power in 1994 and promised to
bring to justice the perpetrators of extrajudicial
killings from previous years. In 1994, it began
prosecutions in several extrajudicial killings allegedly
committed by members of the security forces. The trial of
21 soldiers accused of massacring 35 Tamil civilians in
1992 in the village of Mailanthani in Batticaloa district
was transferred to the Colombo High Court in 1996. A jury
trial began in January 2002, and was still hearing
testimony as of September 30, 2002. Many witnesses for
the case live in displaced persons camps, and they could
not come to court to give evidence.

In January 2000, assailants shot and killed Tamil
politician Kumar Ponnambalam. Police detained four
persons, two of whom alleged that a local businessman had
hired them to commit the murder. The investigation into
the murder has been completed and the information has
been passed to the Attorney General. At the end of
September, a court date was being considered for the

Although former terrorist Tamil militant groups armed by
and aligned with the former PA Government committed
extrajudicial killings in the past, there were no
credible reports of such killings in 2002.

In the past, the military wing of the People's Liberation
Organization of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) and the Razeek group
were responsible for killing a number of persons. The
security forces had armed and used these militias and a
number of other Tamil militant organizations to provide
information, to help identify LTTE terrorists, and, in
some cases, to fight in military operations against the
terrorists. The exact size of these militias is
impossible to ascertain, but they probably total fewer
than 2,000 persons. These groups were asked to disarm
following the formal February ceasefire agreement between
the Government and LTTE. The militia did hand over some
weapons to the Government. Most observers, however,
believe that the groups kept some arms. Persons killed by
these militants in the past probably included LTTE
operatives and civilians who failed to comply with
extortion demands. Unknown assailants killed Jaffna media
correspondent Mayilvaganam Nimalarajan in October 2000.
Nimalarajan's outspoken criticism of paramilitary groups
in Jaffna led many to believe that one of these groups
killed him. No one has been prosecuted for his death.
There have been unconfirmed reports that the LTTE
continued to commit extrajudicial killings. Due to the
inaccessibility of LTTE-controlled areas and the LTTE's
prevention of investigations by outside agencies, the
exact number and type of killings in LTTE-controlled
areas is unknown. Observers believe that the amount of
killings was drastically reduced last year. Attacks by
the LTTE killed civilians outside of LTTE-controlled
areas in the past. A civilian bus on the way to
Trincomalee was bombed by the LTTE in August 2001, for
example, and a trishaw was bombed outside of Jaffna in
September 2001 (see Section 1.g.).

In 2001, attacks and counter-attacks between Government
forces and the LTTE occurred almost daily. There were two
suicide bombing attacks attributed to the LTTE during
2001, on September 15 and October 29, in addition to the
July attack on the airport north of Colombo (see Section
1.g.). There were no reports of suicide bombings in 2002.
There were reports that the LTTE committed extrajudicial
killings, including lamppost killings in 2001. At least
14 persons found guilty of offenses by the LTTE's self-
described courts were killed in 1999 by the LTTE in
public executions; their bodies were tied to lampposts or
otherwise left for public display. The LTTE has bombed
civilian targets, killing and injuring civilians, and
engaged in hostage taking and hijackings. (see Section
In March 1999, municipal workers uncovered a pit in
Jaffna town that contained the skeletal remains of
several persons. Forensic evidence suggested that these
remains were approximately 10 years old. This discovery
potentially implicated the Indian Peacekeeping Force
(IPKF), which occupied Jaffna at the time. b.

Unlike previous years, there were no credible reports of
disappearances at the hands of the security forces in Sri
Lanka during 2002.

In 2001, the army, navy, police, and paramilitary groups
were involved in as many as 10 disappearances, primarily
in Vavuniya. Between January and September 2001, the
Human Rights Commission received 44 reports of
disappearances in Vavuniya alone. These cases were not
confirmed. In December 2000, eight Tamil civilians were
reported missing in Mirusuvil. Two SLA soldiers were
identified as perpetrators and admitted to killing eight
of the civilians. The soldiers were administratively
punished by the army (see Sections 1.a. and 1.c.). In
November 2001, the case was transferred to the
Anuradhapura Magistrate's Court for adjudication. The
soldiers have been indicted and a trial-at-bar was
scheduled to begin by early 2003.

In February 2000, a fisherman seen arrested by naval
personnel near Trincomalee disappeared. In 2002, the
Trincomalee High Court ordered police line up, but the
witness did not identify any of the suspects. At year's
end, the High Court was conducting a habeas corpus
hearing in conjunction with the case. Those who
disappeared in 2001 and previous years are usually
presumed dead. The 2000 U.N. Working Group on Enforced or
Involuntary Disappearances lists the country as having an
extremely large number of "nonclarified" disappearances.
The Commander of the Army and the Inspector General of
Police both have criticized the disappearances and stated
that the perpetrators would be called to account.
Although there have been few prosecutions of security
force personnel to date, 2002 saw numerous indictments
and investigations opened into cases which had previously
been ignored.
Three regional commissions were set up in November 1994
to inquire into disappearances that occurred from 1988 to
1994. The commissions found that 16,742 persons
disappeared after having been removed involuntarily from
their homes in most cases by security forces. Based on
the reports, police created a Disappearances
Investigations Unit (DIU) in 1998 to examine 1,681 cases
in which the commissions had evidence against specific

In 1999, the Attorney General created a Missing Persons
Commissions Unit to consider institution of criminal
proceedings based on results of DIU investigations. In
2000, the Attorney General's office opened over 1,175
files and referred 262 indictments to the high courts and
86 complaints to magistrates involving 583 members of the
security forces on abduction and murder charges. Hearings
and trials in at least 250 of these cases had begun by
late 2000. Of these, the Attorney General's office
successfully prosecuted 4 cases by year's end. The
Attorney General's office continued to prosecute these

In 1998, a fourth commission was established to look into
approximately 10,000 cases of disappearance that the
initial three commissions had been unable to investigate.
Human rights observers have criticized the Government for
not extending the mandate of this commission to include
cases of disappearance that occurred since the
Kumaratunga Government took office in 1994. The
commission submitted an interim report to President
Kumaratunga in December 1999 and a final report in August
2000. The report has not been made public.
In 1999, the U.N. Working Group on Enforced or
Involuntary Disappearances made its third visit to the
country. Its report, released in December 1999 cited the
Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and ER as important
factors contributing to disappearances and recommended
the abolition or modification of these laws to bring them
into conformity with internationally accepted human
rights standards. The ER was repealed in 2001 and there
were no arrests under the PTA last year. Criminal
arrests were still being made without proper procedures,
In past years, Tamil militias aligned with the former PA
government were responsible for disappearances in past
years, although there were no reports during the last 2
years. These militias detained persons at various
locations that served, in effect, as undeclared detention
centers. The HRC had no mandate or authority to enforce
respect for human rights among these militia groups. It
was impossible to determine the exact number of victims
because of the secrecy with which these groups operated.
In early 2002, the Government took steps to disarm these
militias while guaranteeing their safety as part of the
peace process.

The LTTE was responsible for an undetermined number of
civilian disappearances in the north and east during the
year. Although the LTTE has previously denied taking any
prisoners from its battles in January they released 10
Sri Lankans, including some soldiers, to the ICRC. On
September 28 they exchanged a further 7 Sri Lankan
soldiers for 13 of their cadre. At year's end, the LTTE
was not known to be holding any prisoners. (See section

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment

Despite legal prohibitions, the security forces and
police continue to torture and mistreat persons in police
custody and prisons.The Convention Against Torture Act
(CATA) made torture a punishable offense. Under the CATA,
torture is defined as a specific crime, the High Court
has jurisdiction over violations, and criminal conviction
carries a 7-year minimum sentence. According to a 1999
Amnesty International (AI) report, however, the CATA does
not implement several provisions of the U.N. Convention;
this results in torture being prohibited under specific
circumstances but allowed under others. Consequently,
torture continues. In addition, the PTA makes confessions
obtained under any circumstance, including by torture,
sufficient to hold a person until they are brought to
court. In some cases, the detention can extend for

Since 2000, the Government has been working on developing
regulations to prosecute and punish military and police
personnel responsible for torture. The Attorney General's
Office and the Criminal Investigation Unit have
established units to focus on torture complaints; the
units have forwarded 14 cases for indictments during the
year. The Interparliamentary Permanent Standing Committee
and its Interministerial Working Group on Human Rights
Issues have begun tracking criminal investigations of
torture. In addition, the Government also ceased paying
fines incurred by security force personnel found guilty
of torture. Security force personnel have been fined
under civil statutes for engaging in torture. According
to the Attorney General's Office, members of the security
forces and police have been prosecuted under criminal
statutes, but none of the cases had come to conclusion.
The appearance of impunity remains a problem. In the
majority of cases in which military personnel may have
committed human rights abuses, the Government has not
identified those responsible and brought them to justice.

Members of the security forces continued to torture and
mistreat detainees and other prisoners, particularly
during interrogation. Detainees have reported broken
bones and other serious injuries as a result of their
mistreatment. There was a report of rape in detention
during the year. Medical examination of persons arrested
from 2000 to this year continued to reveal multiple cases
of torture. In December 2000, the bodies of eight Tamils
tortured and killed by the army in Mirusuvil were exhumed
after one person escaped and notified authorities. Nine
soldiers were arrested, and by year's end, a trial-at-bar
had begun (see Sections 1.a. and 1.b.). The military also
conducted its own inquiry; the personnel involved have
been discharged.

Thivyan Krishnasamy, a student leader and an outspoken
critic of the actions of security forces in Jaffna, was
released from custody on March 15. He claimed that he
was tortured while in custody. Human rights observers
claim that he was arrested because of his political
activism, but the police stated that he was connected to
the LTTE. He was arrested on July 2 and when he was
brought before a court in August he complained of being
tortured. In response to his allegations of torture, the
Jaffna Student Union held protests during the fall of
2001. In response, university administrators temporarily
closed the university to avoid violence.

During 2001, there were a number of reports of women
being raped by security forces while in detention. One
such case involved two women arrested on March 19 in
Mannar. The women claim that they were tortured and
repeatedly raped by naval and police personnel. The women
were released on bail in April 2001 and have filed
charges against their assailants. At year's end, the 14
accused were standing trial for rape, torture or both. A
fundamental rights case was also opened against the
accused. Four other cases in which the security forces
are accused of raping women in detention were still
pending at year's end.

Under fundamental rights provisions in the Constitution,
torture victims may file civil suit for compensation in
the high courts or Supreme Court. Courts have granted
awards ranging from approximately $175 (14,200 rupees) to
$2,280 (182,500 rupees). In February 2001, the Colombo
high court ordered compensation of $625 (50,000 rupees)
to a young man beaten in police custody in Vavuniya and
Colombo in 1999. In August 2001, the Supreme Court
ordered $1,250 (100,000 rupees) in compensation for a
Tamil man tortured in December 1999 at an army camp near
Batticaloa. Most cases take 2 years or more to move
through the courts, however.

The appearance of impunity remains a problem. In the
majority of cases in which military personnel may have
committed human rights abuses, the Government has not
identified those responsible and brought them to justice.

At the invitation of the Government, the United Nations
Committee on Torture sent a five-person mission to
Colombo in August 2000 to determine whether a systematic
pattern of torture exists in the country and, if so, to
make recommendations for eliminating the practice. By the
end of 2001, the mission had submitted its confidential
report to President Kumaratunga. The report has not been
released to the public.

In the past, Tamil militants aligned with the former PA
government engaged in torture. With the apparent
knowledge of the security forces, the PLOTE in Vavuniya
and the EPDP in Jaffna, were criticized for torturing
their opponents.

The LTTE reportedly used torture on a routine basis.
Prison conditions generally are poor and do not meet
international standards because of overcrowding and lack
of sanitary facilities. The Government permitted
representatives from the International Committee of the
Red Cross (ICRC) to visit approximately 160 places of
detention. The HRC also visited over 2,000 police
stations and over 500 detention facilities by year's end
(see Section 1.d.).

Conditions also are reportedly poor in LTTE-run detention

The LTTE permitted the ICRC to visit Sri Lankan soldiers
detained in the Vavuniya region approximately once every
6 weeks until their release (see Section 1.g.). Due to
the release of detainees in 2000 and the apparent release
of the remaining Sri Lankan soldiers held by the LTTE,
ICRC visited fewer LTTE detention centers than in
previous years (see Section 1.d.). d. Arbitrary Arrest,
Detention, or Exile

Arbitrary arrest and detention are problems. Under the
law, authorities must inform an arrested person of the
reason for arrest and bring that person before a
magistrate within 24 hours. In practice, persons detained
generally appear before a magistrate within a few days of
arrest. The magistrate may authorize bail or order
continued pretrial detention for up to three months or
longer. Security forces must issue an arrest receipt at
the time of arrest, despite some efforts by the
Government to enforce this standard, arrest receipts are
rarely issued. The lack of providing arrest receipts,
observers believe, prevents adequate tracking of cases.
The lack of tracking also permits extended detentions and
torture without making anyone directly responsible for
those being held.

Under the ER (which lapsed in July 2001) and the PTA
(under which there were no arrests in 2002), security
forces could detain suspects for extended periods of time
without court approval. The ER, in force periodically
since 1979 and in force island-wide from August 1998
until July 2001, gave security forces broad powers to
arrest and detain without charge or the right to judicial
review. ER provisions permitted police to hold
individuals for up to 90 days to investigate suspected
offenses, although the police had to present detainees to
a court within 30 days to record the detention. The court
was able to order a further 6 months' detention.

In past years, the army generally turned over those that
it arrested under the ER to the police within 24 hours,
although the police and the army did not always issue
arrest receipts or notify the HRC within 48 hours. The
HRC has a legal mandate to visit those arrested, and
police generally respected this. Due to censorship and
infrequent access, observers could not determine the
state of affairs in LTTE-controlled areas.

In the past, there were credible reports that the
military held persons for short amounts of time in
smaller camps for interrogation before transferring them
to declared places of detention. This procedure, which
allegedly occurred on the Jaffna peninsula, in Vavuniya,
and in the east (see Section 1.c.), did not comply with
requirements to notify the HRC of arrests and to issue
arrest receipts. The military maintained the detainees
were "in transit," and claimed they did not violate the
detainees' rights.

Unlike previous years, there were no large-scale arrests
of Tamils during the year. In the past, many detentions
occurred during operations against the LTTE. Most
detentions lasted a maximum of several days although some
extended to several months. The number of prisoners held
at any given moment under the ER and the PTA fluctuated
between 1,500 and 2,000. As of September 1, 222 Tamils
charged under the PTA remained in detention without bail
awaiting trial. As part of the peace process' confidence
building measures, the Government released over 750
Tamils arrested under the PTA during the first 8 months
of 2002.

Unlike previous years, there were no cordon and search
operations during 2002. In previous years, Tamils
complained that they were abused verbally and held for
extended periods at security checkpoints throughout
Colombo. During the week following the July 24, 2001,
attack on Colombo's main airbase and international
airport, security forces detained hundreds of Tamils in
the Colombo region for questioning. In addition, those
arrested sometimes were held in prisons with convicted
criminals. The vast majority of checkpoints were removed
in January and the reports largely ceased (see Section

In July 1998, the President established the Committee to
Inquire into Undue Arrest and Harassment (CIUAH). The
committee, which includes senior opposition party and
Tamil representatives, examines complaints of arrest and
harassment by security forces and takes remedial action
as needed. The Committee received more than 1,200
complaints in 2001. Opinions on the effectiveness of the
CIUAH were mixed. Some human rights observers believed
that the work of the committee deterred random arrests
and alleviated problems encountered by detainees and
their families. The role of the CIUAH diminished
drastically during the past year due to peace-process
related improvements (i.e. removing checkpoints, stopping
arrests under the PTA, and no cordon and search

The HRC investigated the legality of detention in cases
referred to it by the Supreme Court and private citizens.
Although the HRC is legally mandated to exercise
oversight over arrests and detentions by the security
forces and to undertake visits to prisons, Members of the
security forces sometimes violated the regulations and
failed to cooperate with the HRC in the past.

The Government continued to give the ICRC unhindered
access to approximately 160 detention centers, police
stations, and army camps recognized officially as places
of detention. Due to the lapsing of the ER in July 2001,
the total number of persons detained in military bases at
any one time has been dramatically reduced, with the
military making fewer arrests and transferring detainees
to police facilities more quickly than in previous years.
With the ceasefire agreement, the number of arrests by
the military has declined to near zero.
The EPDP reportedly detained its own members for short
periods in Jaffna as punishment for breaking party

The LTTE has in the past detained civilians, often
holding them for ransom. There have been reports of this
practice during the year, such as the multiple reports of
kidnapping of Muslim businessmen in Batticaloa area,
particularly during the first four months of the year.
Reports indicate that the LTTE demand anywhere from a few
hundred dollars to upwards of $10,415 (1,000,000 Rupees)
for their release. In September 1999, the LTTE held three
businessmen for a ransom of $550,000 (40 million Rupees).
The businessmen were freed after making partial payment
and promising to pay the balance. (See Section 1.g.
regarding prisoner release.)

The Government does not practice forced exile and there
are no legal provisions allowing its use.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary
and the Government generally respects these provisions in

The President appoints judges to the Supreme Court, the
courts of appeal, and the high courts. A judicial service
commission, composed of the Chief Justice and two Supreme
Court judges, appoints, transfers, and dismisses lower
court judges. Judges serve until the mandatory retirement
age of 65 for the Supreme Court and 62 for other courts.
Judges can be removed for reasons of misbehavior or
physical or mental incapacity, but only after a legal
investigation followed by joint action of the President
and the Parliament.

In criminal cases, juries try defendants in public.
Defendants are informed of the charges and evidence
against them, and may be represented by the counsel of
their choice, and have the right to appeal. The
Government provides counsel for indigent persons tried on
criminal charges in the high courts and the courts of
appeal, but it does not provide counsel in other cases.
Private legal aid organizations assist some defendants.
In addition, the Ministry of Justice operates 11
community legal aid centers to assist those who cannot
afford representation and to serve as educational
resources for local communities. These legal aid centers
had tried no cases by the end of September, however.
There are no jury trials in cases brought under the PTA.
Confessions, obtained by various coercive means,
including torture, are inadmissible in criminal
proceedings, but are allowed in PTA cases; most
convictions under the PTA rely heavily on them.
Defendants bear the burden of proof to show that their
confessions were obtained by coercion. Defendants in PTA
cases have the right to appeal. Subject to judicial
review in certain cases, defendants can spend up to 18
months in prison on administrative order waiting for
their cases to be heard. Once their cases come to trial,
decisions are made relatively quickly. Over 750 PTA cases
were dropped by September 1 and the prisoners released.

Most court proceedings in Colombo and the south are
conducted in English or Sinhala, which due to a shortage
of court-appointed interpreters has restricted the
ability of Tamil-speaking defendants to get a fair
hearing. Trials and hearings in the north and east are in
Tamil and English, but many serious cases, including
those having to do with terrorism, are tried in Colombo.
While Tamil-speaking judges exist at the magistrate
level, only four high court judges, an appeals court
judge, and a Supreme Court justice speak fluent Tamil.
Few legal textbooks and only one law report exist in
Tamil, and the Government has complied only slowly with
legislation requiring publishing all laws in English,
Sinhala, and Tamil.

In Jaffna, LTTE threats against court officials sometimes
disrupted normal court operations in the past. Although
the Jaffna high court suspended activities due to
security concerns in 2000, it reopened in 2001 and was
still functioning at year's end.

The LTTE has its own self-described court system,
composed of judges with little or no legal training. The
courts operate without codified or defined legal
authority and essentially operate as agents of the LTTE
rather than as an independent judiciary. The courts
reportedly impose severe punishments, including

The Government claims that all persons held under the PTA
are suspected members of the LTTE and are, therefore,
legitimate security threats. Insufficient information
exists to verify this claim and to determine whether
these detainees are political prisoners. More than 750
PTA cases were dismissed by the Attorney General by
September 1. The Attorney General's office expected a
few more of the 222 remaining cases to be dismissed by
the end of the year. The Government claims that the
cases that remain at that point will only be of those
individuals directly linked to suicide bombings or other
terrorist and criminal acts. In many cases, human rights
monitors question the legitimacy of the criminal charges
brought against these persons.

The LTTE also reportedly holds a number of political
prisoners. The number is impossible to determine because
of the secretive nature of the organization. The LTTE
refuses to allow the ICRC access to these prisoners.

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or

The Constitution provides for the right to privacy, and
the Government generally respects this provision in
practice; however, it infringes on citizen's privacy
rights in some areas. The police obtain proper warrants
for arrests and searches conducted under ordinary law;
the security forces are not required to obtain warrants
for searches conducted either under the now lapsed ER or
the PTA, however. The Secretary of the Ministry of
Defense is responsible for providing oversight for such
searches. No judicial review or other means of redress
existed for alleged illegal searches under the ER. Some
Tamils complained that their homes were searched as a
means of general harassment by the security forces (see
Section 1.d.). The Government is believed to monitor
telephone conversations and correspondence on a selective

On September 4, taking into account the fast progress of
the peace process, the Government legalized the LTTE.
The LTTE was first proscribed in 1998 following the
suicide bombing of the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, one
of Sri Lanka's holiest sites.

The LTTE routinely invades the privacy of citizens,
maintaining an effective network of informants. The LTTE
also forcibly recruited children during the year (see
Section 6.d.). During August and September, the LTTE
handed over 85 children to UNICEF, stating that the
children had volunteered to serve, but that the LTTE does
not accept children (see Section 6.d.).

g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian
Law in Internal Conflicts

Hostilities between the Government and the LTTE abated
with the announcement of unilateral ceasefires in
December 2001, followed by a formal ceasefire accord
being agreed to in February 2002. On October 10, seven
civilians were killed when security force personnel fired
into a crowd storming their compound in the east. Some
observers claim the security forces used excessive force
in repelling a peaceful crowd that was demonstrating
against the alleged harassment of LTTE cadre earlier in
the day. Others claim the security forces were justified
in repelling what appeared to be a LTTE-instigated
attack. On April 29, in Nilaveli, on the east coast, two
Tamil women were injured when Sri Lankan Naval personnel
opened fire. The circumstances surrounding the incident
remained unclear at year's end. The investigation into
the incident remains open.

In 2001, an estimated 2000 combatants and 100 civilians
were killed in conflict-related incidents. In May 2001,
a 10-year-old child and the mother were injured near
Karawetti when the LTTE and SLA exchanged fire; in June,
two civilians were killed and 16 others were injured
during a 2-hour confrontation between the LTTE and the
SLA at Kawatamunai. The Sri Lankan air force carried out
a bombing campaign in the north and east during the year,
with particular intensity from June through August. The
Tamil press regularly reported the death of civilians due
to air force bombing, but there has been no confirmation
of these reports.

In the past, the Government often publicized aspects of
its planned operations to allow civilians time to vacate
the probable areas to be affected. In 2001, the armed
forces did not give public warnings before the
commencement of operations. During 2002, there were no
military actions. In May 2000, 23 persons were killed and
dozens were injured when a bomb exploded at a Buddhist
temple in Batticaloa in the east, where crowds had
gathered to celebrate the Buddhist festival of Vesak. The
Government blamed the LTTE for this bombing, but no one
claimed responsibility. Investigations into the incident
concluded in 2001. After the bomb exploded, security
forces reportedly opened fire, killing four children and
injuring eight more. The Government maintains that the
evidence and interviews of witnesses do not support those
claims. In September 1999, the air force dropped bombs on
a village near Puthukudiyiruppu in the Vanni, killing 22
persons (see Section 1.a.). Human rights observers
alleged that those killed were civilians. Government
officials acknowledged that the persons were killed by
air force bombs; they alleged, however, that the air
force targeted an LTTE training camp, and at first they
did not admit the possibility that civilians were killed
in error. The Government later acknowledged quietly that
the attack was an accident. During 2001, the Government
held an investigation and authorized compensation for the
victims' families, admitting that the site had been
bombed "in error." The Government did not admit formally
to having killed civilians, however.

On November 16, 2001, the Sri Lankan Army created the
Directorate of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in the
Sri Lankan Army. The directorate is charged with
coordinating all human rights activities for the army
from ICRC training classes (see Section 4) to overseeing
the Human Rights Cells that are assigned throughout the
military. The SLA also states that all of its personnel
have completed the appropriate training and pledged to
adhere to the "rules of international Humanitarian Law."
Early in 2002, the air force and navy instituted similar
programs. The armed forces operate under written rules
of engagement that severely restrict the shelling,
bombardment, or other use of firepower against civilian-
occupied areas.

At the end of 2001, the UNHCR reported a minimum of
800,000 IDP's in Sri Lanka due to the conflict, while the
Commissioner General for Essential Services states that
it provides services for over 700,000 persons. Due to an
ongoing ceasefire, more than 150,000 IDPs returned to
their points of origin last year. The Government did not
have the resources to support adequately the returnees.
In addition, many returned to areas suspected of being

The Government continued to provide food relief, through
the Commissioner General for Essential Services (CGES)
and the Multi-Purpose Cooperative Societies (MCPS), to
displaced and other needy citizens, including those in
areas controlled by the LTTE. Food rations were delivered
by the Government to the Vanni area through a checkpoint
that is controlled on one side by the security forces and
on the other by the LTTE. The border into the territory
controlled by the LTTE was not closed during the year.

Prior to 2002, the Government maintained a long list of
prohibited "war-related" medical items, such as sutures,
plaster of Paris, intravenous liquid supplies, bandages,
and some drugs. At the end of the year, however, only
certain military-related items were prohibited from being
transported to LTTE controlled areas. In the past, NGO's
and other groups that sought to take controlled items to
LTTE-controlled areas in the Vanni region needed
permission from local officials as well as from the
Ministry of Defense. Delays were common and approval
sometimes was denied. As a result, many medical items in
the Vanni region and Jaffna were in short supply. This
shortfall contributed to a deterioration in the quality
and quantity of medical care furnished to the civilian
population. Previous restrictions on the transport of
items such as cement, batteries, and currency into the
LTTE-controlled areas also had a negative impact on the
relief work of NGO's in those areas.

The Ministry of Defense reported capturing several LTTE
operatives in Government-controlled areas with weapons in
direct contradiction of the terms of the ceasefire
agreement. The Government reportedly returned most LTTE
personnel thus apprehended directly to the closest LTTE
checkpoint, but some were detained for longer periods.
Previously the military sent the cadre they captured or
who surrendered to rehabilitation centers. The ICRC
continued to visit former LTTE members in government
rehabilitation camps, although the October 2000 massacre
of more than 20 such detainees at a government-run
detention facility at Bindunuwewa, near Bandarawella, led
observers to question the continued security of residents
of these facilities (see Section 1.a. and 1.g.).

In view of the scale of hostilities in previous years and
the large number of LTTE casualties, some observers have
found the number of prisoners taken under battlefield
conditions to be low and have concluded that many LTTE
fighters apparently were killed rather than taken
prisoner. Some observers believed that, on the government
side, an unwritten "take-no-prisoners" policy had been in
effect. The military denied this claim, stating that
other factors limited the number of prisoners taken, such
as the LTTE's efforts to remove injured fighters from the
battlefield, the proclivity of its fighters to choose
suicide over capture, and the LTTE's occasional practice
of killing its own badly injured fighters (see Section
1.a.). There were no reports of security forces personnel
executing LTTE cadres during the year.

In previous years, the Government refused to permit
relief organizations to provide medical attention to
injured LTTE fighters, although it has offered to treat
any LTTE injured entrusted to government care. According
to credible reports, injured LTTE cadres surrendering to
the Government received appropriate medical care.

The LTTE admitted that in the past it killed security
forces personnel rather than take them prisoner. Past
eyewitness accounts confirm that the LTTE has executed
injured soldiers on the battlefield. At year's end, the
LTTE had reportedly released all security force personnel
they were holding. The LTTE is believed to have killed
most of the police officers and security force personnel
captured in the past few years. The LTTE in 1999
transferred 11 captured SLA members to the ICRC. In
February 2000, the LTTE released four servicemen and in
June 2000 released one civilian. In January, the LTTE
unilaterally released 10 Sri Lankans, including some
soldiers. On September 28, the LTTE release 7 prisoners
in exchange for the release of 13 of their cadre.

The LTTE used excessive force in the war. During the
year, the LTTE has engaged in hostage taking, hijackings,
and forcible recruitment.

In July 2001, the LTTE attacked Colombo's main airbase
and international airport. During the attack, the LTTE
destroyed six military and four civilian aircraft. The
LTTE also damaged the civilian airport.

In the past, the LTTE was regularly accused of killing
civilians. For example, the LTTE was accused of killing
four Sinhalese villagers at Wahalkada village in March
2001, and killing a Tamil civilian and injuring 15 others
in Trincomalee in June of the same year (see Section

The LTTE uses child soldiers. In October, four children
ranging in age from 15to 17 years surrendered to a local
church near Trincomalee after escaping from the LTTE.
Credible sources reported increased LTTE recruitment,
including recruitment of children during the year.

The LTTE expropriates food, fuel, and other items meant
for IDP's, thus exacerbating the plight of such persons
in LTTE-controlled areas. Malnutrition remained a problem
in LTTE-controlled areas as well as in other parts of the
Vanni region, with nutrition levels falling below the
national average. Experts have reported a high rate of
anemia and a low birth rate, both of which indicate lower
levels of nutrition. Confirmed cases of malnutrition
included hundreds of children. A survey completed by
Medecins Sans Frontieres in 1999 found malnutrition
levels in the war-affected areas at about the same level
as in the war-free south of the country, however.

Landmines were a problem in Jaffna and the Vanni and to
some extent in the east. Landmines, booby traps, and
unexploded ordnance pose a problem to resettlement of
displaced persons and rebuilding. A U.N. landmine team
tasked with locating and mapping LTTE and army mines in
the Jaffna peninsula suspended its mission in April 2000
stating that it was impossible to continue as long as
hostilities continued. At year's end, a UN team was
again in Jaffna coordinating the process of mapping the
mined areas and establishing oversite for a mine removal
program. The Sri Lankan Military and the LTTE are
removing mines in areas they control. The government was
reporting in excess of four mine-related casualties among
civilians per month for 2002. In August 2001, a civilian
bus travelling to Trincomalee hit a land mine injuring 30
of its passengers. In September 2001, a vehicle carrying
a family hit a mine approximately 5 kilometers north of
Jaffna, killing all six passengers and the driver.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and
expression. In the past, the Government restricted these
rights in practice, often using national security grounds
permitted by law. The Government reissued censorship
orders, on all ongoing and future military operations, in
November 1999 after the military suffered setbacks in the
field. The Government officially lifted the censorship on
war reporting in June 2001. However, even when no
specific government censorship is exercised, private
television stations impose their own, informal censorship
on international television news rebroadcast in the

During 2002, criminal defamation laws, which were often
used by the Government to intimidate independent media
outlets, were eliminated and all pending cases dropped.
The cases for which a decision had already been made
still stand.

The Government controls the country's largest newspaper
chain, two major television stations, and the Sri Lanka
Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC, a radio station). There
are a variety of independent, privately owned newspapers,
journals and radio and television stations, most of which
freely criticize the Government and its policies. The
Government imposes no political restrictions on the
establishment of new media enterprises.

The president officially eased censorship restrictions on
foreign journalists in a circular published in June 2000;
material for publication or broadcast within the country,
regardless of author, remained subject to government
approval until the repeal of censorship laws in June
2001, however. Claims of harassment and intimidation of
private media by the government continue.

Human rights observers commented that in the past Tamils
from the north or east who criticized the Sri Lankan
military and Government were often harassed and sometimes
arrested. They cite the case of Thiviyan Krishnasamy, a
student leader in Jaffna and critic of the military in
the Jaffna area. He was arrested in July 2001 and
released in March 2002 (see Section 1.c).

In September 2000, police arrested a young man for
criticizing the president on a radio call-in show. Police
traced the call to discover the caller's address. The
young man's parents alleged that he had a mental illness
and could not be held responsible for his comments. The
young man remained in prison at year's end.

In 2000, police detained two persons for questioning in
connection with the 1999 murder of Rohana Kumara, editor
of a Sinhala-language newspaper which had been critical
of leading figures in the ruling coalition. The case
remained open at year's end.

In February 1998, armed men attacked a journalist who
regularly reported on defense matters, including
corruption in military procurements. The Government
criticized the attack; it subsequently arrested and
indicted two air force personnel in the case, including
the bodyguard of a former Commander of the Air Force. A
formal indictment was handed down in 1999. Courts
postponed the hearings several times during the past two
years. On February 9, the assailants were given lengthy
jail sentences.

The Supreme Court appeal of the editor of a leading
national newspaper who was convicted of defaming the
president in 1997 was pending at the end of 2001. Other
defamation cases filed by the President against editors
of major newspapers who either had criticized the
Government or supported the opposition remained pending.
Threats of further complaints to be filed by the
Government or president continued through 2001.
Journalists viewed these cases as frivolous and intended
only to intimidate and harass the media. In 2002, the
defamation laws permitting these cases was repealed and
the cases dropped.

The Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance (SLTMA) was formed in
1999 to protect the interests of Tamil journalists, who
allege that they are subject to harassment and
intimidation by Tamil paramilitary groups and Sri Lankan
security forces. Regional Tamil correspondents working in
the war zones have complained of arbitrary arrest and
detention in the past and difficulty in obtaining press
accreditation. The SLTMA has filed cases on behalf of
Tamil journalists, but its cases have not yet succeeded
in the courts.
Prior to 2002, travel by local and foreign journalists to
conflict areas was restricted, as they were required to
obtain advance permission from the Ministry of Defense to
visit such areas. The Foreign Ministry also must approve
visits to conflict areas by foreign journalists. The LTTE
does not tolerate freedom of expression. It tightly
restricts the print and broadcast media in areas under
its control. The LTTE has killed those reporting and
publishing on human rights.

The Government does not restrict access to the Internet.

The Government generally respects academic freedom.

The LTTE does not respect academic freedom, and it has
repressed and killed intellectuals who criticize it, most
notably the moderate and widely respected Tamil
politician and academic, Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam, who was
killed by a suicide bomber in July 1999. The LTTE also
has severely repressed members of human rights
organizations, such as the University Teachers for Human
Rights (UTHR), and other groups. Many former members of
the UTHR have been killed.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The law provides for freedom of assembly and the
Government generally respects this right in practice.
Although the PTA may be used to restrict this freedom,
the Government did not use the act for that purpose
during the last two years. The ER, which lapsed in July
2001, also restricted the right of assembly. Numerous
peaceful political and nonpolitical rallies were held
throughout Sri Lanka during the year.

On July 19, 2001, the opposition held a rally that the
Government claimed was illegal under the 1981 Referendum
Act, which essentially states that rallies and
demonstrations of a political nature cannot be held when
a referendum is scheduled. Security forces killed two
persons when the government confronted the rally with
force, prompting further demonstrations. The Government
generally grants permits for demonstrations, however,
including those by opposition parties and minority

On April 30, 2001, a violent clash between the Sinhalese
and Muslim communities occurred in Mawanella. The Muslim
community protested alleged police inaction concerning
the assault on a Muslim store clerk. In response, a group
of Sinhalese attacked the Muslim protesters. As the
conflict escalated, two Muslims were killed and scores of
buildings and a few vehicles were destroyed. Police
reportedly did nothing to stop the destruction of Muslim
property. The investigation into the Mawanella incident
remained open at year's end.

The law provides for freedom of association and the
Government respects this right in practice. Although the
PTA may restrict this right, the Government did not use
the act for that purpose during the previous two years.

The LTTE does not allow freedom of association in the
areas that it controls. The LTTE has reportedly used
coercion to make people attend rallies it sponsors. On
the Jaffna Peninsula, the LTTE occasionally has posted in
public places the names of Tamil civilians accused of
associating with security forces and other Government
entities. The LTTE has killed Tamil civilians who have
cooperated with the security forces in establishing a
civil administration in Jaffna under a political
leadership elected freely and fairly in January 1998.

c. Freedom of Religion

The Constitution gives Buddhism a foremost position, but
it also provides for the right of members of other faiths
to practice their religions freely, and the Government
respects this right in practice. Despite the special
status afforded by the Constitution to Buddhism, major
religious festivals of all faiths are celebrated as
public holidays.
Foreign clergy may work in the country, but for the last
30 years, the Government has sought to limit the number
of foreign religious workers given temporary work
permits. Permission usually is restricted to
denominations registered with the Government. The
Government has prohibited the entry of new foreign clergy
on a permanent basis. It permitted those already in the
country to remain.

Some evangelical Christians have expressed concern that
their efforts at proselytizing often meet with hostility
and harassment from the local Buddhist clergy and others
opposed to their work. During the summer, at least one
couple was physically assaulted by Buddhist clergy.
Evangelicals sometimes complain that the Government
tacitly condones such harassment, but there is no
evidence to support this claim.

The LTTE expelled virtually the entire Muslim population
from their homes in the northern part of the island in
1990. Most of these persons remain displaced. In the
past, the LTTE expropriated Muslim homes, lands, and
businesses and threatened Muslim families with death if
they attempted to return (see Section 2.d.). In the past
year, the LTTE leadership has met with the leaders of the
Muslim community on their incorporation into the peace
process. The LTTE has made some conciliatory statements
to the Muslim community, but the statements are viewed
with skepticism by Muslims.

The LTTE attacked Buddhist sites, most notably the
historic Dalada Maligawa or "Temple of the Tooth," the
holiest Buddhist shrine in the country, in Kandy in
January 1998. In May 2000, an LTTE bombing near a temple
at the Buddhist Vesak festival in Batticaloa killed 23
persons and injured dozens of others (see Section 1.a.).

The LTTE has been accused in the past of using church and
temple compounds, where civilians were instructed by the
Government to congregate in the event of hostilities, as
shields for the storage of munitions.

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign
Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Constitution grants every citizen "freedom of
movement and of choosing his residence" and "freedom to
return to [the country]," and the Government generally
respects the right to domestic and foreign travel. In
the past, however, the war with the LTTE prompted the
Government to impose more stringent checks on travelers
from the north and the east and on movement in Colombo,
particularly after dark. Tamils had to obtain police
passes in order to move freely in the north and east, and
frequently they were harassed at checkpoints throughout
the country (see Section 1.d.). These security measures
had the effect of restricting the movement of Tamils.

The government has lifted most travel restrictions within
the country. Areas near military bases and so-called
high security zones still have limited access. Some
observers claim the high security zones are excessive and
unfairly claim Tamil lands, particularly in Jaffna. In
April, the A-9 road connecting Jaffna in the north to the
rest of Sri Lanka was reopened. The LTTE still puts some
limitation on travel on the road, including tolls, but
the government has lifted all of its past restrictions on
travel to Jaffna.

The armed forces initially prevented more than 1,000
civilians from vacating conflict areas on the Jaffna
peninsula during fighting in April and May 2000; however,
the military quickly decided to permit civilians to
evacuate the area after intense pressure by human rights
groups. Fighting between Government and the LTTE has
displaced hundreds of thousands of persons, with many
displaced multiple times as front lines shifted. Since
September 2000, 172,000 IDP's have been living in welfare
centers ranging from camps, where conditions vary
considerably, to settlements with a full range of
government social services and food aid. By the end of
2001, an estimated 500,000 to 800,000 IDP's, including
those in the Vanni, had registered for government food
aid, and were receiving medicine and other essential
supplies from the Government. By year's end, more than
150,000 of these IDP's had returned home.

The Government has sought to resettle the displaced where
possible and has arranged for a number of those from
Jaffna to return to their homes. Over the years, the
Government, in cooperation with the UNHCR, built
permanent housing for 18,000 Muslims in the Puttalam
area. An additional one-time resettlement program
relocated 1000 families by end of 2001. Many of those
resettled later were displaced by subsequent fighting,
including those who returned to their homes north and
east of Vavuniya in 1999, but were forced to flee again
when the LTTE retook the area starting in November, 1999.
The current return of IDP's exceeds the capacity of the
Government to provide adequate assistance. The IDP's
are, in some cases, returning to areas that are still

The LTTE has discriminated against Muslims, and in 1990
expelled some 46,000 Muslim inhabitants--virtually the
entire Muslim population--from their homes in areas under
LTTE control in the northern part of the island. Most of
these persons remained displaced and live in or near
welfare centers at year's end. There are credible reports
that the LTTE has warned thousands of Muslims displaced
from the Mannar area not to return to their homes until
the conflict is over. In the past, the LTTE has
expropriated Muslim homes, land, and businesses and
threatened Muslim families with death if they attempt to
return. It appears that those attacks by the LTTE are not
targeted against persons due to their religious beliefs,
however; rather, it appears that they are part of an
overall strategy to clear the north and east of persons
not sympathetic to the cause of an independent Tamil
state. For its part, the LTTE has invited the Muslim
IDPs to return home, asserting they will not be harmed.
Although some Muslim IDPs have begun returning home, the
vast majority still do not trust the LTTE and are waiting
for a firm settlement or guarantees from the government
or international community as to their safety in LTTE-
controlled areas.

Between October 1996 and the end of 1999, over 150,000
persons moved out of LTTE-controlled regions through
Vavuniya and other transit points into government
controlled regions. Of these, over 100,000 reached Jaffna
and other Tamil-majority areas. Many had left the Vanni
region with the intention of proceeding south; they opted
for other destinations only after learning that they
would have to remain in transit camps until security
clearances for southward travel were obtained. Obtaining
a clearance could take up to 4 months in some cases, and
some human rights groups alleged that the procedures were
arbitrary and unreasonably strict. The Government
restricted the movement of displaced Tamils due to
possible security, economic, and social concerns. These
restrictions have basically been lifted with the onset of
the peace process.

Prior to 2002, and following the Government's capture of
Jaffna in 1995, the LTTE began to allow persons to move
more freely into government-controlled areas, although it
still extracted a small fee for "travel passes" to leave
the Vanni, and it rarely allowed entire families to leave
at once. The LTTE occasionally disrupted the flow of
persons exiting the Vanni region through the one
established and legal checkpoint. In the past, the LTTE
disrupted the movement of IDP's from Trincomalee to
Jaffna by hijacking or attacking civilian shipping,
although there were no such reports this year.
Humanitarian groups estimate that more than 200,000 IDP's
live in LTTE-controlled areas (see Section 1.g.).

Several thousand Tamils fled LTTE-controlled areas to
Tamil Nadu in southern India in 1998. An estimated 65,000
Tamil refugees live in camps there. Approximately 100,000
refugees may have integrated into Tamil society in India
over the years. A small number returned from India during
the year.

The Government cooperates with the UNHCR and other
humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees. The
issue of the provision of first asylum did not arise
during the year. The Government does not permit the entry
of refugees into the country or grant first asylum, nor
does it aid those who manage to enter to seek permanent
residence elsewhere. The law does not include provisions
for granting refugee or asylee status in accordance with
the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of
Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. There were no reported
instances of forcible repatriation of persons to a
country where they feared persecution.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of
Citizens to Change Their Government

Citizens have the right to change their government
through periodic multiparty elections based on universal
adult suffrage; however, recent elections have been
marred by violence and irregularities. The country is a
longstanding democratic republic with an active
multiparty system. Power is shared between the popularly
elected President and the 225-member Parliament. The
right to change the government was last exercised in the
December 2001 parliamentary elections in which the United
National Front, a coalition of parties led by the United
National Party (UNP), won a majority in Parliament for
the next 6-year period. The December 2001 and November
2000 parliamentary elections were marred by voting
irregularities and violence.

Following the December 2001 elections, the UNP and its
allies formed the new Government. The president's party,
the People's Alliance (PA), is now the opposition in
Parliament. The UNP, led by Prime Minister Ranil
Wickremesinghe, has formed the new Government and filled
the positions in the cabinet. Cohabitation ties between
the president and prime minister have been difficult.

The president suspended Parliament from July to September
2001. The suspension of Parliament angered opposition
parties, which sponsored numerous demonstrations. One of
these demonstrations, on July 19, ended with the deaths
of two marchers killed by security forces (see Section
2.b.). After further defections from her coalition, the
President dissolved Parliament on October 10 and called
for elections to take place on December 5.
On December 5, 2001, 12 supporters of the Sri Lankan
Muslim Congress were killed, apparently by hired thugs of
a PA candidate. Former PA MP Anuruddha Ratwatte and his
two sons have been indicted for conspiracy. In addition,
15 others, including security force personnel, were also
indicted for their alleged involvement in the murders.
The trial was still ongoing at year's end. Despite an
extremely violent campaign, including credible reports on
the use of intimidation by both of the major parties,
voter turnout exceeded 70 percent. The People's Alliance
for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) reported 755
incidents of violence and 49 deaths; The Center for
Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) reported 4,208
incidents, and 73 deaths; and the police reported 2,247
incidents, and 45 deaths during the year.

In September 2001, the Parliament passed the 17th
Amendment, which established an independent Commission on
Elections (among other commissions), which is to be
tasked with ensuring free and fair elections.

A delegation from the European Union monitoring the
election expressed concern about violence and
irregularities in the voting, but concluded that the
election "did to a reasonable degree reflect the will of
the electorate."

The Commissioner of Elections recognized 46 parties at
the time of general elections in October 2000; only 13
parties actually held seats in the 225-member Parliament
elected during 2001. The two most influential parties,
the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (the principal component
party of the governing PA coalition) and the UNP,
generally draw their support from the majority Sinhalese
community. These two parties have alternated in power
since independence.
Although there are no legal impediments to the
participation of women in politics or government, the
social mores in some communities limit women's activities
outside the home, and the percentage of women in
government and politics does not correspond to their
percentage of the population. In November 1994, a woman
was elected President for the first time; she was
reelected in December 1999 for a second term. Eleven
women held seats in the Parliament that completed its
term in August 2000. In addition to the Prime Minister,
the Minister for Women's Affairs, and the Minister of
Social Services, a number of women held posts as deputy
ministers in the last parliament. Of the 5,000 candidates
for the October 2000 parliamentary elections, 116 were
women and 7 of them won seats in the October elections.
Only one woman (Minister of Women's Affairs) was
appointed to the new cabinet formed after the December 5

The Parliament elected in October 2000 had 23 Tamil and
22 Muslim members. The Parliament elected in December
2001 had 28 Tamil, 21 Muslim, and 9 women members.

The LTTE refuses to allow elections in areas under its
control, although it did not oppose campaigning by
certain Tamil parties in the east during the December
2001 parliamentary elections. In previous years the LTTE
effectively undermined the functioning of local
government bodies in Jaffna through a campaign of killing
and intimidation. This campaign included the killing of 2
of Jaffna's mayors and death threats against members of
the 17 local councils. Throughout the period of the
conflict, the LTTE has killed popularly elected
politicians, including those elected by Tamils in areas
the LTTE claimed as part of a Tamil homeland.

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International
and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations
of Human Rights

Several domestic human rights NGO's, including the
Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies (CHA), the University
Teachers for Human Rights, Jaffna (UTHR-J), the Civil
Rights Movement (CRM), and the Law and Society Trust
(LST), monitor civil and political liberties. There are
no adverse regulations governing the activities of local
and foreign NGO's, although the Government officially
requires NGO's to include action plans and detailed
descriptions of funding sources as part of its
registration process. Some NGO workers have seen this as
an attempt by the Government to exert greater control
over the NGO sector after previous human rights groups
criticisms. Few NGO's complied with these new reporting
requirements. The Government generally cooperated with
NGO's, members of Parliament, and other officials
participating in seminars and other events concerning
human rights and humanitarian affairs.

The Government allowed the ICRC unrestricted access to
detention facilities (see Sections 1.c. and 1.d.). The
ICRC provides international humanitarian law training
materials and training to the security forces. The UNHCR,
the ICRC, and a variety of international NGO's assisted
in the delivery of medical and other essential supplies
to the Vanni area (see Section 1.g.).

In the first 6 months of the year, the HRC conducted over
600 visits to police stations and over 300 visits to
detention facilities. The HRC has over 4,500 cases of
alleged human rights abuse pending. The Commission's
investigation into the allegations by former Lance
Corporal Rajapakse about mass graves at Chemmani in
Jaffna resulted in exhumations in 1999 that provided the
basis for the ongoing case (see Section 1.a.). Some
observers still complain that the HRC is hampered by the
lack of a strong leader. Over the past year, however,
many observers of commented positively on the new
leader's implementation of standardized procedures and
willingness to confront other government branches on
human rights issues. The new commissioners were appointed
in March 2000 and stayed in place until early 2002.
Activists have expressed some satisfaction with the new
leadership's prompt investigation into the November 2000
Bindunuwewu massacre.

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion,
Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Constitution provides for equal rights under the law
for all citizens, and the Government generally respects
these rights. The Supreme Court regularly upholds court
rulings in cases in which individuals file suit over the
abridgment of their fundamental civil rights. The HRC and
the CIUAH are other mechanisms that the Government has
established to ensure enforcement of constitutional
provisions in addition to access to the courts (see
Section 1.d.).


Sexual assault, rape, and spousal abuse (often associated
with alcohol abuse) continued to be serious and pervasive

Amendments to the Penal Code introduced in 1995
specifically addressed sexual abuse and exploitation and
modified rape laws to create a more equitable burden of
proof and to make punishments more stringent. Marital
rape is considered an offense in cases of spouses living
under judicial separation, and laws govern sexual
molestation and sexual harassment in the workplace. While
the Penal Code may ease some of the problems faced by
victims of sexual assault, many women's organizations
believe that greater sensitization of police and judicial
officials is required. The Government set up the Bureau
for the Protection of Children and Women within the
police in 1994 to respond to calls for greater awareness
and attention; however, there was no information on any
actions taken by the Bureau nor on the number of crimes
against women.

Although laws against procuring and trafficking were
strengthened in 1995, trafficking in women for the
purpose of forced labor occurs (see Sections 6.c. and

During 2001, police reported 500 rape case
investigations. In 2001, there were a number of reports
of security forces raping women in custody (see Section
1.c.). In 2002, there was one such report. There have
been no convictions in the cases involving security force

The Constitution provides for equal employment
opportunities in the public sector. However, women have
no legal protection against discrimination in the private
sector where they sometimes are paid less than men for
equal work, often experience difficulty in rising to
supervisory positions, and face sexual harassment. Women
constitute approximately one-half of the formal work

Women have equal rights under national, civil, and
criminal law. However, questions related to family law,
including divorce, child custody, and inheritance, are
adjudicated by the customary law of each ethnic or
religious group. The minimum age of marriage for women is
18 years, except in the case of Muslims, who continue to
follow their customary marriage practices. The
application of different legal practices based on
membership in a religious or ethnic group often results
in discrimination against women.


The Government is committed to protecting the welfare and
rights of children, but is constrained by a lack of
resources. The Government demonstrates this commitment
through its extensive systems of public education and
medical care. The law requires children between the ages
of 5 and 14 to attend school. Approximately 85 percent of
children under the age of 16 attend school. Education is
free through the university level. Health care, including
immunization, also is free.

In the period from January 1 to June 30, 2000, the police
recorded 680 cases of crimes against children, compared
with 767 cases for January 1 to the end of August. Many
NGO's attribute the problem of exploitation of children
to the lack of law enforcement rather than adequate
legislation. In the past many law enforcement resources
were diverted to the conflict with the LTTE, although the
police's Bureau for the Protection of Children and Women
conducts investigations into crimes against these two
groups. In September, the Police also opened an office
to work directly with the National Child Protection
Authority (NCPA) on children's issues.

There is a problem of child prostitution in certain
coastal resort areas. The Government estimates that there
are more than 2,000 active child prostitutes in the
country, but private groups claim that the number is much
higher (see Section 6.f.). The bulk of child sexual abuse
in the form of child prostitution is committed by
citizens; however, some child prostitutes are boys who
cater to foreign tourists. Some of these children are
forced into prostitution (see Section 6.f.). The
Government has pushed for greater international
cooperation to bring those guilty of pedophilia to
justice. The penalty for pedophilia is not less than 5
years and up to 20 years as well as an unspecified fine.
Four cases of pedophilia were brought to court in 2000,
one involving a foreigner. At least two cases were
brought to court in 2002 but the accused fled the country
in each case. There was at least one reported arrest for
pedophilia during the year, but no convictions.

Regular employment of children also occurs in the
informal sector and in family enterprises (see Section
6.d.). Government inspections have been unable to
eliminate these forms of child labor, although an
awareness campaign coupled with the establishment of hot
lines for reporting child labor has led to an increase in
the prosecutions by the Labor Department regarding child
labor violations. However, many thousands of children are
believed to be employed in domestic service, although
this situation is not regulated or documented. Many child
domestics are reportedly subjected to physical, sexual
and emotional abuse. Internal trafficking in male
children for the purpose of prostitution is a problem
(see Sections 6.d. and 6.f.).

The Government created the National Child Protection
Authority (NCPA) in 1998. The law establishing the NCPA
consolidated existing legislation and defined a child as
anyone under age 18. Under the law, the definition of
child abuse includes all acts of sexual violence against,
trafficking in, and cruelty to children. The law also
prohibits the use of children in exploitative labor or
illegal activities or in any act contrary to compulsory
education regulations. The legislation further widened
the definition of child abuse to include the involvement
of children in war. The NCPA is comprised of
representatives from the education, medical, retired
police, and legal professions; it reports directly to the
President. The police also created an office in September
to work directly with the NCPA, particularly in
investigations of incidents the NCPA reports to them. In
the past, the LTTE used child soldiers and recruits
children, sometimes forcibly, for use in battlefield
support functions and in combat. LTTE recruits, some as
young as 13, have surrendered to the military, and
credible reports indicate the LTTE has stepped up
recruiting efforts (see Section 1.g.). In May 1998, the
LTTE gave assurances to the Special Representative of the
U.N. Secretary General for Children in Armed Combat that
it would not recruit children under the age of 17. The
LTTE has not honored this pledge, even after the
ceasefire agreement there were multiple credible reports
of the LTTE forcibly recruiting children (see Section

Persons with Disabilities

The law does not mandate accessibility to buildings or
government services for persons with disabilities. The
World Health Organization estimates that 7 percent of the
population is persons with disabilities. Most persons
with disabilities, who are unable to work, are cared for
by their families. The Department of Social Services
operates eight vocational training schools for persons
with physical and mental disabilities and sponsors a
program of job training and placement for graduates. The
Government also provides some financial support to NGO's
that assist persons with disabilities; subsidizes
prosthetic devices and other medical aids for persons
with disabilities; makes some purchases from suppliers
with disabilities; and has registered 74 schools and
training institutions for persons with disabilities run
by NGO's. The Social Services Ministry has selected job
placement officers to help the estimated 200,000 work-
eligible persons with disabilities find jobs. In spite of
these efforts, persons with disabilities still face
difficulties because of negative attitudes and societal
discrimination. In 1996 Parliament passed legislation
forbidding discrimination against any person on the
grounds of disability. No cases are known to have been
filed under this law.

Indigenous People

The country's indigenous people, known as Veddas, number
fewer than l,000. Some prefer to maintain their isolated
traditional way of life, and they are protected by the
Constitution. There are no legal restrictions on their
participation in the political or economic life of the
nation. In August 1998, the Government fulfilled a long-
standing Vedda demand when the president issued an order
granting Veddas the right to hunt and gather in specific
protected forest areas. The executive order granted the
Veddas the freedom to protect their culture and to carry
on their traditional way of life without hindrance. Under
a pilot program, Veddas received special identity cards
to enable their use of these forest areas. Some Veddas
still complain that they are being pushed off of their

Religious Minorities

Discrimination based on religious differences seems much
less common than discrimination based on ethnicity or
caste. In general, the members of the various faiths tend
to be tolerant of each other's religious beliefs.
However, on occasion, Christians have been harassed by
Buddhist monks for their alleged attempts to convert
Buddhists to Christianity. Catholic clergy, for example,
have reported non-violent incidents of this sort in the
south during the year. Evangelical Christians were
physically assaulted on at least one occasion. In the
past, evangelical Christians have reported similar
incidents (see Section 2.c.).

There are reports that members of various religious
groups give preference in hiring in the private sector to
members of their own group or denomination. This practice
likely is linked to the country's ongoing ethnic problems
and does not appear to be based principally on religion.
There is no indication of preference in employment in the
public sector on the basis of religion.

In April 2001, three Sinhalese men attacked a Muslim
cashier in Mawanella. The Muslim community protested
police inaction regarding the attack. In response
approximately 2,000 Sinhalese, including Buddhist monks,
rioted in the Muslim section of town and confronted the
Muslim protesters. Two Muslims were killed, and a number
of buildings and vehicles were destroyed. The Muslim
community throughout the western portion of the country
staged a number of protests claiming the police did
nothing to prevent the riot. Some of the protests
resulted in clashes between the Muslim and Sinhalese
The LTTE has attacked notable Buddhist sites. In May
2000, 23 persons were killed and dozens injured when an
LTTE bomb exploded near a temple at the Buddhist Vesak

In 2002, the LTTE allowed Roman Catholics unlimited
access to a shrine at Madhu in the north. Thousands of
pilgrims took the opportunity to visit the shrine.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

There are approximately one million Tamils of
comparatively recent Indian origin, the so-called "tea
estate" Tamils or "Indian" Tamils, whose ancestors
originally were brought to the country in the 19th
century to work on plantations. Approximately 75,000 of
these persons do not qualify for either Indian or Sri
Lankan citizenship and face discrimination, especially in
the allocation of government funds for education. Without
national identity cards, they also are vulnerable to
arrest by the security forces. However, the Government
has stated that none of these persons would be forced to
depart the country. During 1999, the Government
introduced a program to begin registering these
individuals; 15,300 tea estate Tamils received identity
cards between January and September 30, 2001. Some
critics charged that the program did not progress fast

Both Sri Lankan and tea estate Tamils maintain that they
have long suffered systematic discrimination in
university education, government employment, and in other
matters controlled by the Government. Section 6 Worker

a. The Right of Association

The Government respects the constitutional right of
workers to establish unions, and the country has a strong
trade union tradition. Any seven workers may form a
union, adopt a charter, elect leaders, and publicize
their views; however, in practice, such rights can be
subject to administrative delays, and are unofficially
discouraged. Nonetheless, approximately 25 percent of the
6.7 million person work force nationwide and more than 70
percent of the plantation work force, which is
overwhelmingly Hill Tamil, is unionized. In total there
are more than 1,000,000 union members, 650,000 of whom
are women. Approximately 20 percent of the
nonagricultural work force in the private sector is
unionized. Unions represent most workers in large private
firms, but those in small-scale agriculture and small
businesses usually do not belong to unions. Public sector
employees are unionized at very high rates and are highly

Most large unions are affiliated with political parties
and play a prominent role in the political process,
though major unions in the public sector are politically
independent. More than 30 labor unions have political
affiliations, but there are also a small number of
unaffiliated unions, some of which have active leaders
and a relatively large membership. In 2000 the most
recent year for which data is available, the Department
of Labor registered 183 new unions and canceled the
registration of 132 others, bringing the total number of
functioning unions to 1,604. The Ministry of Labor is
authorized by law to cancel the registration of any union
that does not submit an annual report. This requirement
is the only legal grounds for cancellation of

All workers, other than civil servants and workers in
"essential" services, have the right to strike. By law
workers may lodge complaints with the Commissioner of
Labor, a labor tribunal, or the Supreme Court to protect
their rights. These mechanisms are effective; however,
there can be lengthy delays in the resolution of cases.
New reforms put limits on the amount of time allowed to
resolve arbitration cases, though there is a substantial
backlog to clear. The Government periodically has
controlled strikes by declaring some industries essential
under the ER (which lapsed in July 2000). The President
retains the power to designate any industry as an
essential service. The ILO has pointed out to the
Government that essential services should be limited to
services where an interruption would endanger the life,
personal safety, or health of the population.

Civil servants collectively may submit labor grievances
to the Public Service Commission, but they have no legal
grounds to strike. Nonetheless, government workers in the
transportation, medical, educational, power generation,
financial, and port sectors have staged brief strikes and
other work actions in the past few years. There were
numerous public sector strikes during the year.

The law prohibits retribution against strikers in
nonessential sectors. Employers may dismiss workers only
for disciplinary reasons, mainly misconduct. Incompetence
or low productivity are not grounds for dismissal.
Dismissed employees have a right to appeal their
termination before a labor tribunal.

Unions may affiliate with international bodies, and some
have done so. The Ceylon Workers Congress, composed
exclusively of Hill Tamil plantation workers, is the only
trade union organization affiliated with the
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU),
although a new trade union in the Biyagama export
processing zone (EPZ) is affiliated with the Youth Forum
of the ICFTU. No national trade union center exists to
centralize or facilitate contact with international

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The law provides for the right to collective bargaining,
but fewer than 100 companies rely on it. Large firms may
have employees in as many as 60 different unions. In
enterprises without unions, including those in the EPZ's,
worker councils--composed of employees, employers and
often a public sector representative--generally provide
the forums for labor and management negotiation. The
councils do not have the power to negotiate binding
contracts, and labor advocates have criticized them as

In December 1999, Parliament passed an amendment to the
Industrial Disputes Act to require employers to recognize
trade unions and the right to collective bargaining. The
law prohibits antiunion discrimination. This law is being
implemented. Employers found guilty of such
discrimination must reinstate workers fired for union
activities but may transfer them to different locations.

There are approximately 110,000 workers employed in three
EPZ's, a large percentage of them women. Under the law,
workers in the EPZ's have the same rights to join unions
as other workers. Few unions have formed in the EPZs,
partially because of severe restrictions on access by
union organizers to the zones. While the unionization
rate in the rest of the country is approximately 25
percent, the rate within the EPZs is only 10 percent.
Labor representatives allege that the Government's Board
of Investment, which manages the EPZs, including setting
wages and working conditions in the EPZs, has discouraged
union activity. The short-term nature of employment and
relatively young workforce in the zones makes it
difficult to organize. Work councils in the EPZs are
chaired by the Government's Board of Investment (BOI) and
only have the power to make recommendations. Labor
representatives also allege that the Labor Commissioner,
under BOI pressure, has failed to prosecute employers who
refuse to recognize or enter into collective bargaining
with trade unions. While employers in the EPZs offer
generally higher wages and better working conditions than
employers elsewhere, workers face other concerns, such as
security, expensive but low quality boarding houses, and
sexual harassment. In most instances, wage boards
establish minimum wages and conditions of employment,
except in the EPZs, where wages and work conditions are
set by the BOI.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited under the law;
however, there were reports of the use of forced or
compulsory labor. ILO Convention 105 was not ratified yet
by the end of September. There are reports of women
being trafficked to the country for the purpose of
prostitution (see Section 6.f.). Some children reportedly
were trafficked and forced into prostitution (see
Sections 5 and 6.f.). The law does not prohibit forced or
bonded labor by children specifically, but government
officials interpret it as applying to persons of all
ages. There were credible reports that some rural
children were employed in debt bondage as domestic
servants in urban households. There were many reports
that some of these children had been abused.

There are credible reports that some soldiers attached to
an army camp north of Batticaloa forced local villagers
to build a wall around the camp during 2000, and that
they beat individuals who refused to comply. The military
apparently transferred the officer responsible for the
forced labor when the abuse was publicized.

d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for

The law prohibits labor by children under 14 years of
age, but child labor is a problem and still exists in the
informal sectors. The National Child Protection Authority
Act (NCPA) combats the problem of child abuse, including
unlawful child labor. The act consolidated existing
legislation that established what types of employment are
restricted for children, which age groups are affected.
The Ministry of Labor is the competent authority to set
regulations, carry out implementation, and monitoring.
The minimum age for employment is 14, although the law
permits the employment of younger children by their
parents or guardians in limited work. In January 2000,
Parliament repealed a regulation that permitted domestic
employment for children as young as age 12. The law
permits the employment of persons from the age of 14 for
not more than one hour on any day before school. The
Trade Union Ordinance of 1935 allows membership only from
the age of 16, however. The law also permits employment
in any school or institution for training purposes. The
Compulsory Attendance at Schools Act, which requires
children between the ages of 5 and 14 to attend school,
has been in effect since January 1998, although it still
is being implemented. Despite legislation, child labor
still exists in the informal sector. A child activity
survey carried out in 1998 and 1999 by the Department of
Census and Statistics found almost 11,000 children
between the ages of 5 and 14 working full time and
another 15,000 engaged in both economic activity and
housekeeping. The survey found 450,000 children employed
by their families in seasonal agricultural work.

Persons under age 16 may not be employed in any public
enterprise in which life or limb is endangered. There are
no reports that children are employed in the EPZs, the
garment industry, or any other export industry, although
children sometimes are employed during harvest periods in
the plantation sectors and in nonplantation agriculture.
A 1995 labor survey of the plantations indicated that
half of all children in plantations drop out of school
after the fourth grade, leaving a large pool of children
between the ages of 10 and 15 available to pursue
employment. The primary school retention rate has been
increasing in recent years.

Many thousands of children are believed to be employed in
domestic service, although this situation is not
regulated or documented. A 1997 study reported that child
domestic servants are employed in 8.6 percent of homes in
the Southern Province. The same study reported that child
laborers in the domestic service sector often are
deprived of an education. Many child domestics are
reportedly subjected to physical, sexual, and emotional

Regular employment of children also occurs in the
informal sector and in family enterprises such as family
farms, crafts, small trade establishments, restaurants,
and repair shops. Government inspections have been unable
to eliminate these forms of child labor (see Section 5),
although an awareness campaign coupled with the
establishment of hot lines for reporting child labor has
led to an increase in the prosecutions regarding child
labor violations by the Labor Department. The Labor
Department reported 194 complaints regarding child labor
in 2000, with 79 of these cases withdrawn due to lack of
evidence or faulty complaints. The Department prosecuted
7 cases in 2000. In the first eight months of the year,
the Labor Department reported 199 complaints, with 48
cases withdrawn and 40 prosecuted. According to the
Ministry of Labor, there were 10 prosecutions for child
labor (below the age of 14) during 2000. Under
legislation dating from 1956, the maximum penalty for
employing minors is about $12 (1,000 rupees), with a
maximum jail term of 6 months.

Internal trafficking in male children for the purpose of
prostitution is a problem (see Sections 5 and 6.f.).
Estimates of the number of child prostitutes range from
2,000 to 30,000; however, there are no reliable
statistics. Although forced or bonded labor by persons of
any age is prohibited by law, some rural children
reportedly have served in debt bondage (see Sections 5
and 6.c.). The Government ratified ILO Convention 182 on
the Worst Forms of Child Labor on March 1, 2001.

The LTTE continued to use high school-age children for
work as cooks, messengers, and clerks. In some cases, the
children reportedly help build fortifications. In the
past, children as young as age 10 were said to be
recruited and placed for 2 to 4 years in special schools
that provided them with a mixture of LTTE ideology and
formal education. The LTTE uses children as young as 13
years of age in battle, and children sometimes are
recruited forcibly into the LTTE (see Section 5). In May
1999, the LTTE began a program of compulsory physical
training, including mock military drills, for most of the
population of the areas that it controls, including for
schoolchildren and the aged. This LTTE program reportedly
still functions. According to LTTE spokesmen, this work
is meant to keep the population fit; however, it is
believed widely that the training was established in
order to gain tighter control over the population and to
provide a base for recruiting fighters. Despite repeated
claims to the contrary by the LTTE, there were credible
reports that the LTTE continued to forcibly recruit
children throughout the year. Individuals or small
groups of children intermittently turned themselves over
to security forces or religious leaders saying they had
escaped LTTE training camps throughout the year. During
August and September, the LTTE handed over 85 children to
UNICEF, stating that the children had volunteered to
serve, but that the LTTE does not accept children.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Ministry of Labor effectively enforces the minimum
wage law for large companies through routine inspections;
however, staffing shortages prevent the department from
effectively monitoring the informal sector. While there
is no universal national minimum wage, approximately 40
wage boards set minimum wages and working conditions by
sector and industry. In 2001, minimum wage rates averaged
approximately $29.38 (2,625 rupees) per month in
industry, commerce, and the service sector. The rate was
approximately $1.38 (104.53 rupees) per day in
agriculture. The minimum wage in the garment industry was
$25.73 (2,300 rupees) per month. These minimum wages are
insufficient to provide a decent standard of living for a
worker and the standard family of five, but the vast
majority of families have more than one breadwinner.

Most permanent full-time workers are covered by laws that
prohibit them from regularly working more than 45 hours
per week (a 5 1/2-day workweek). Overtime is limited to
60 hours per month under a recent ruling. Labor
organizers are concerned that the new legislation does
not include a provision for overtime to be done with the
consent of the worker. Such workers also receive 14 days
of annual leave, 14 to 21 days of medical leave, and
approximately 20 local holidays each year. Maternity
leave is available for permanent and seasonal or part-
time female workers. Several laws protect the safety and
health of industrial workers, but the Ministry of Labor's
small staff of inspectors is inadequate to enforce
compliance with the laws. Workers have the statutory
right to remove themselves from situations that endanger
their health, but many workers are unaware of, or
indifferent to, health risks, and fear that they would
lose their jobs if they removed themselves. Health and
safety regulations do not meet international standards.
f. Trafficking in Persons

The law prohibits trafficking in persons; however, Sri
Lanka is a country of origin and destination for
trafficked persons, primarily women and children for the
purposes of forced labor, and possibly for sexual
exploitation. Sri Lankan women travel to Middle Eastern
countries to work as domestics and some have reported
being forced into domestic servitude and sexual
exploitation. Some Sri Lankan children are trafficked
internally to work as domestics and in some cases for
sexual exploitation. There were unconfirmed reports that
boys were trafficked to the Middle East as camel jockeys.
According to police reports, there has been a floating
pool of approximately 200 foreign female sex workers in
the country who may have been trafficked from the former
Soviet Union, Thailand, and China.

Internal trafficking in male children is also a problem,
especially from areas bordering the northern and eastern
provinces. Protecting Environment and Children Everywhere
(PEACE), a domestic NGO, estimates that in 2001 there
were at least 5,000 male children between the ages of 8
and 15 years who are engaged as sex workers both at beach
and mountain resorts. Some of these children are forced
into prostitution by their parents or by organized crime
(see Section 5). PEACE also reports that an additional
7,000 young men aged 15 to 18 years are self-employed
prostitutes. Many organizations believe the PEACE
numbers to be inflated.

On October 1, the Police opened an office to work as part
of the NCPA in children's issues, including trafficking
in children.

Penal Code amendments enacted in 1995 provide for
penalties for trafficking in women including imprisonment
for 2 to 20 years, and a fine. For trafficking in
children, the law allows imprisonment of 5 to 20 years,
and a fine.

The Government took action during 2001 to prepare a
national plan to combat the trafficking of children. The
project was part of a regional project funded by the ILO.

The country has a reputation as a destination for foreign
pedophiles. Officials believe that approximately 30
percent of the clients are tourists and 70 percent are
locals. The Government occasionally prosecuted foreign
pedophiles, and there have been some convictions; however
there were no such convictions during the year. Many
NGO's attribute the problem of child exploitation to a
lack of law enforcement. There is evidence of continuing,
but reduced, international interest in Sri Lankan
children for the sex trade as evidenced in tourism by
foreign pedophiles, and in Internet sites featuring child
pornography involving the country's children.
End Text.

3. (U) Minimized considered.


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