With the theme “Use the Right to Information Act and Prevent Torture” the Human Rights Office held an exhibition on the 25th June 2017 at Nawalapitiya. The Right to Information Act that was passed on the 04th of August 2016 in the Sri Lankan Parliament and it was explained to more than 3000 people who gathered at St. Mary’s Church Parish Hall. Visual presentations both in Sinhala and Tamil were accompanied by an exhibition on Torture and the Act on Right to Information.
The signature campaign that was launched by the Human Rights Office - Kandy of Sri Lanka in 2016 to collect 10,000 signatures to request the Attorney General to prosecute the Torture Perpetrators under the Torture Act no 22 of 1994, was further carried on as the Attorney General has not indicted Torture perpetrators for the past 08 years.
The Right to Information Act that came in to force on 03rd February 2017, the fight for responsible accountability, good governance which is against corruption can only be strengthened if the information held by responsible authorities is more readily available. The result of relaxing the obstructing tight mechanisms that prevent the access of information would create a more transparent system of administration.
It is remarkable and broadly accepted by legal academics that the true essence of democracy can be achieved by the declaration of “Right to Information” to the public. The scrutiny of such is notably to maintain a more democratic system in the country whilst entertaining the true spirit of transparency.
Sri Lanka has been struggling with providing recuperative services to victims of Torture as well as families of the disappeared and prisoners detained indefinitely without trial waiting to know the truth for accountability and justice. The human rights situation in Sri Lanka has been reviewed recently by a number of independent experts and bodies at the UN. These include the Special Rapporteur on torture who visited the country in 2016 and concluded that “a culture of torture persists”. The Committee against Torture also reviewed in November 2016 and expressed its concern at allegations of the routine use of torture.
The Right to information Act give access to parents and families of the persons detained in police custody to inquire of the detainee as RTI has a provision that clearly says that information involves life or liberty of a person, the information should be provided within 48 hours and thus this provision could be made use of to prevent Torture.
The Torture exhibition and the signature campaign continued from 9.00 a.m. until 12.30 p.m. and the general public, from all walks of life, showed a tremendous interest on the subject including the school children.
The comments from the general public was very positive and they thanked the HRO and requested more opportunities to campaign against police brutality and Torture.
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Human Rights Office Kandy, Torture in Sri Lanka, Disappearances in Sri Lanka, Healing and Counseling
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