Sri Lanka facing crisis over ‘disappearances’: rights group

COLOMBO, March 6, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka is one of the world’s worst perpetrators of “disappearances” and abductions, Human Rights Watch said Thursday, calling for a UN mission to monitor rights abuses on the island.

At least 1,500 people “disappeared” in 2006 and 2007, mostly in the island’s restive north and east, with the majority of the victims being minority Tamils, the New York-based group said, describing the situation as a “national crisis.”

In a 241-page report entitled “Recurring Nightmare: State Responsibility for Disappearances’ and Abductions in Sri Lanka,” HRW launched a scathing attack on the island’s government.

“President Mahinda Rajapakse, once a rights advocate, has now led his government to become one of the world’s worst perpetrators of enforced disappearances,” said HRW’s deputy Asia director Elaine Pearson.

Since fighting between the government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) escalated in 2006, HRW accused the military and pro-government armed groups of abducting and killing “hundreds of individuals”.

In 2006 and 2007, the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances recorded more new “disappearance” cases from Sri Lanka than from any