Right to Life, a prominent human rights advocacy centre, has issued a strong statement on the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, calling for urgent action to prevent torture and promote a civilized society. The organization highlights the need for Sri Lanka, a member state of the United Nations and a party to the International Convention against Torture, to address the issue of torture within its borders.
Torture is universally condemned as a crime against humanity, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has emphasized the imperative to hold torturers accountable and dismantle or transform systems that allow torture. Right to Life Organization argues that Sri Lanka currently harbors a social and administrative system that permits torture, which poses a grave threat to the nation’s civility.
While Sri Lanka’s Constitution guarantees freedom from torture and the country has enacted laws criminalizing torture, the organization asserts that high levels of torture persist, exposing vulnerabilities in the rule of law, governance, and social structures. The systematic prevalence of torture reflects an immoral state of affairs that undermines fundamental human freedoms and rights.
The government of Sri Lanka bears the responsibility to protect its citizens’ rights, and Right to Life Organization calls upon it to prioritize this matter. The organization stresses the importance of transforming law enforcement officers into individuals who respect human rights and insists that existing anti-torture measures be effectively implemented. It points out the low enforcement rate of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Act and the need for the government to address this issue promptly.
Right to Life Organization also draws attention to the alarmingly low number of cases filed under the Act, which indicates the underreporting of torture incidents and abuse by law enforcement officers. It urges the government to take comprehensive and decisive action to eradicate the crime of torture, as recognized by the United Nations, and to ensure that perpetrators are not allowed to evade justice.
In conclusion, Right to Life Organization urges the government of Sri Lanka to actively intervene and uphold a policy of “zero tolerance on torture” without mere lip service. It emphasizes the urgent need for a civilized system that prohibits torture and emphasizes the government’s inalienable responsibility to protect and uphold the basic rights of its citizens.
As Sri Lanka observes the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on June 26, 2023, Right to Life Organization’s statement serves as a powerful reminder of the imperative to prevent torture and promote a just and humane society.