Sri Lanka must help released war refugees: Amnesty

December 2, 2009 (AFP) – Amnesty International on Wednesday pushed Sri Lanka to grant full freedom to 130,000 Tamil civilians who have been allowed out of camps where they were detained following the island’s ethnic conflict. The government said the camp inmates, who were displaced in the war against the Tamil Tiger rebels, were now free to leave. But many have been unable to return home as they have no transport and their villages are destroyed.

“A permanent release from camps must be accompanied by assurances that people are not subjected to further questioning or re-arrest in new locations,” Amnesty’s Sri Lanka expert Yolanda Foster said in a statement.

“It’s also critical that the government maintain its responsibility to care for displaced people wherever they choose to go.”

The London-based rights watchdog requested access to the makeshift camps, which have been widely criticised by the United Nations and international aid groups.

Camp residents were given their first opportunity to leave the sites in northern Sri Lanka on Tuesday, seven months after the Tigers’ defeat.

“Thousands of people have started to leave camps… but the promise to unlock the camps must be followed up by the prot