World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Sri Lanka: Free Nallaratnam Singarasa

Sri Lanka: Free Nallaratnam Singarasa

The deadline has now passed for the Sri Lankan government to respond to a UN recommendation calling for the release or retrial of Nallaratnam Singarasa, who was tortured and has spent more than ten years in prison following an unfair trial.

"We urge the Sri Lankan government to immediately comply with the recommendation of the committee," said Amnesty International and Interights, (the International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights). "In light of the amount of time Nallaratnman Singarasa has spent in prison and the severe torture he has suffered, the government should release him as soon as possible."

Nallaratnam Singarasa, an ethnic Tamil, was arrested in July 1993 during the long-running conflict between the government and Tamil separatists. He claims to have been subjected to severe torture following his arrest, which included having his head held inside a tank of water. A doctor later found scars on his back and eye resulting from the torture. During his detention Nallaratnam Singarasa was denied access to a lawyer and an interpreter. He claims he was forced to put his thumb print on a "confession" written in Sinhalese, a language which he did not understand. In September 1995 Nallaratnam was convicted of crimes under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) including conspiracy to overthrow the government. He was sentenced to 50 years imprisonment.

In July this year the UN Human Rights Committee reviewed his case and concluded that Nallaratnam Singarasa’s right to a fair trial had been violated as his conviction was based solely on his supposed "confession" and as he had been denied access to an interpreter during interrogation. The committee also criticised the fact that the onus was put on Nallaratnam Singarasa to prove that his confession had been obtained by torture and concluded that the government had failed in its obligation to effectively investigate allegations of torture.

The Sri Lankan government were given 90 days to respond to the recommendation of the Human Rights Committee at the beginning of August. However, three months later Nallaratnam Singarasa is still in prison although he desperately hopes that this recommendation will lead to his release.

Amnesty International and Interights are concerned that the PTA provides an incentive for interrogating officers to obtain "confessions" from detainees by any means, including torture. This is because the PTA allows for "confessions" to be used as evidence in court as long as they are heard by officers above a certain rank. Amnesty International has consistently called for the Act to be repealed or brought into line with international human rights standards.

View all documents on Sri Lanka at

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UN: Bachelet Calls On Mexico To Step Up Efforts As Tragic Milestone Reached Of More Than 100,000 Disappearances

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Tuesday called on the Mexican authorities to step up efforts to ensure truth and justice for victims of disappearances, who now number more than 100,000, according to official data... More>>

ADC: Statement On The Assassination Of Shireen Abu Akleh

Early this morning in Jenin, Occupied Palestine, revered Palestinian voice Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American journalist for Al Jazeera, was assassinated by Israeli Occupation Forces snipers...

Ukraine: UN Rights Office Probe Spotlights Harrowing Plight Of Civilians

Almost 76 days since Russia invaded Ukraine, countless civilians remain caught up in the horror and destruction of war, UN rights investigators said on Tuesday... More>>

Access Now: Elon Musk’s Twitter Buyout Must Not Come At The Expense Of Human Rights

Following today’s announcement that Elon Musk will acquire complete ownership of Twitter in a cash sale of around 44 billion USD, pending shareholder approval, Access Now urges Twitter’s Board, employees, and shareholders... More>>

UN: Biodiversity And Ecosystem Protection Highlighted On Mother Earth Day

Marking International Mother Earth Day, UN General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid urged on Friday, for collective action to safeguard biodiversity and protect ecosystems... More>>

Ukraine: Hundreds More Reach Safety After Fleeing Besieged Mariupol
In Ukraine, humanitarians said on Wednesday that hundreds of people have managed to reach safety after fleeing Mariupol, where there’s also been condemnation for the killing of Lithuanian filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravicius... More>>