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* US State Department raps both Sri Lankan government and LTTE for human right violations
Thursday, February 26, 2009, 6:02 GMT, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 26, Washington, D.C.: The United States Department of State in its 2008 country reports on human right practices flayed the Government of Sri Lanka for its poor human right record and accused the LTTE of killing and abusing a large number of civilians.

The 2008 Country Report on Human Rights Practices on Sri Lanka released yesterday by the US State Department said Sri Lankan government's respect for human rights declined as armed conflict escalated and blamed the pro-government paramilitary groups and Tamil political parties EPDP and TMVP for increased violations in the country.

"While civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces, observers linked the government closely to paramilitary groups believed responsible for serious human rights violations," the report said.

The report rapped the LTTE for killing and abusing civilians not only in the rebel-held areas but also in the South. It accused the rebel outfit of using chemical agents, such as tear gas or CS riot control gas, in combat situations.

"The LTTE attacked and killed a large number of civilians; engaged in torture, arbitrary arrest, and detention; denied fair, public trials; arbitrarily interfered with privacy; denied freedoms of speech, press, and assembly and association; and practiced extensive forced recruitment, including of children. The LTTE was active in areas, particularly in the south, that it did not control, attacking military and civilian targets, including public buses and trains, and conducting political assassinations," it said.

The report accused the Tamil political parties EPDP in Jaffna and TMVP in the East of using paramilitary groups to abduct and kill LTTE members in the North and East.

"In Jaffna the pro government paramilitary EPDP used a network of informants and worked with military intelligence and other government security forces to identify, abduct, and kill alleged LTTE sympathizers or operatives. The TMVP used a similar network of informants in the east to discover and eliminate possible LTTE operatives or sympathizers," it said.

The report blamed both LTTE and TMVP for recruiting and using minors in their armed wings. The LTTE had not released any minors while The TMVP has released a total of 39 child soldiers on two occasions.

The report also noted that the government permitted visits by independent human rights observers and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The ICRC reported receiving unrestricted access to government and LTTE controlled prison facilities and detention centers, it added.

The lengthy report in its entirety can be found here.

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