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TITLE:  SRI LANKA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STAT
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                           SRI LANKA


Sri Lanka is a constitutional republic with an active 
multiparty system.  In generally free and fair elections in 
August, the People's Alliance (PA) coalition ended 17 years of 
control of Parliament by the United National Party (UNP), and 
Chandrika Kumaratunga, the daughter of two former prime 
ministers, became Prime Minister.

A conflict between the Government and the Liberation Tigers of 
Tamil Eelam (LTTE), an organization fighting for a separate 
state for the country's Tamil minority, continued into its 
eleventh year.  However, the new Government initiated a 
dialogue with the LTTE, the first since 1990.

The Government controls all the security forces.  The 50,000 
member police force is responsible for internal security in 
most areas of the country, and the 80,000 member army conducts 
the war against the LTTE insurgents.  The Home Guards, a 
paramilitary force of some 1,000 members, provides security for 
Muslim and Sinhalese communities in or near the war zone.  The 
Government also equips various Tamil militias opposed to the 
LTTE.  The security forces committed significantly fewer human 
rights abuses in 1994, although some human rights violations 
still occurred.

The economy is based on the export of tea, textiles, and 
rubber.  Despite a costly social welfare system and a large 
fiscal deficit, the economy grew by 6.9 percent in 1993, due in 
part to continued economic reform, the continued privatization 
of government corporations, and increased foreign trade.

The Government took important steps to improve its human rights 
practices.  However, torture remains a serious abuse and is 
practiced by both government and LTTE forces.  Both sides used 
excessive force in their ongoing conflict.  Many abuses were 
reported in LTTE-controlled areas, but there is little 
information available to verify them.  Discrimination and 
violence against women and child prostitution continue to be 
problems.

In positive developments, political and extrajudicial killings 
and disappearances virtually ended in government-controlled 
areas.  Three regional commissions were established to 
investigate disappearances.  The Government began to prosecute 
current and past violators of human rights.

The overall human rights performance of the military and the 
police improved significantly.  The new Government lifted the 
Emergency Regulations in most parts of the island, a move that 
reestablished the authority of the judiciary and the right of 
individuals to a fair, public trial.  In accordance with a 
commitment made to the United Nations Human Rights Commission 
(UNHRC), the Government eliminated restrictions on the freedoms 
of speech, press, and association in the Emergency Regulations 
remaining in force.  Eighty percent of those held in long-term 
security force detention were released during the course of the 
year.  The Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which gives 
security forces wide powers of preventive and incommunicado 
detention, remained in effect though little used.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no known extrajudicial killings committed by the 
security forces or groups allied with the Government.  For the 
second year there were no reprisal massacres against Tamil 
civilians by the security forces.  For the third consecutive 
year, there were no known killings by vigilante groups.  
However, there were 10 suspicious deaths, mostly involving 
detainees acting as informants for security forces who died 
during operational missions against the LTTE.  There was 
insufficient information to determine responsibility for these 
deaths.

At least 25 people were killed preceding the parliamentary 
elections in August.  The violence was apparently caused by 
individuals and did not appear to be an organized attempt by 
poltical parties to intimidate voters.  The Government has 
prosecuted the alleged perpetrators.  Among those arrested and 
charged for murder was a deputy minister in the new Government.

During the presidential election campaign, a suicide bomber 
killed the United National Party's candidate Gamini Dissanayake 
and 58 other people.  The LTTE was the primary suspect in the 
bombing; however, at year's end, the Government's investigating 
team had not assigned blame.  Eight other persons were killed 
in incidents preceding the presidential election in November.

The new Government sought to bring to justice the perpetrators 
of extrajudicial killings from previous years.  It prosecuted 
suspects in several extrajudicial killings and brought charges 
against several members of the security forces and its own 
political supporters.

Reversing a much-criticized action taken in 1993, the new 
Government relocated the Mailanthani trial, in which 21 
soldiers were accused of massacring 35 Tamil civilians in 1992, 
to Batticaloa, a Tamil majority town.  It formally indicted the 
soldiers and scheduled their trials for 1995.

Government forensic experts resumed their investigation of a 
mass grave at Sooriyakanda, containing an estimated 300 
bodies.  The Government also started to investigate newly 
discovered graves, including one at Ankumbura which may contain 
the bodies of 36 persons killed by the police in 1989.

In October the Government indicted 4 police officers for the 
1990 murders of 12 civilians in Wavulkelle; the trial is 
scheduled for 1995.  The Government also took legal action 
against several army personnel who attacked 80 villagers, 
killing one, in March in Batticaloa district.

The new Government lifted the Emergency Regulations from most 
of the country, a move that made the concealment of 
extrajudicial killings and disappearances by government forces 
more difficult.  However, the Regulations remained in force in 
areas directly affected by the insurgency.  In these areas, the 
Government revised the Regulations to require security forces 
to report the deaths of detainees to a magistrate, who in turn 
who is required to order a post mortem.

The LTTE continued to commit extrajudicial killings.  LTTE 
cadres killed a candidate in local government elections in the 
Eastern Province and also killed several suspected government 
informants.  In March, LTTE guerillas abducted and killed 22 
fishermen off the coast of Puttalam District, and killed 
several more fishermen in the same area in August.  In 
September the LTTE assassinated a leader of an anti-LTTE Tamil 
group in Batticaloa District, and are believed to have killed 
several opponents in the Jaffna District.  In the past, the 
LTTE has killed university professors, members of nonviolent 
Tamil opposition parties, and human rights monitors.

LTTE violence was not restricted to Sri Lanka.  In May LTTE 
agents killed Sabalingam Sabaratnam, an LTTE opponent, and four 
other Tamils in Paris.

     b.  Disappearance

There were 10 confirmed disappearances in 1994, compared to 98 
in 1993, 210 in 1992, and an average 15 a day in 1990.  Those 
who disappeared in 1994 and in previous years are presumed 
dead.  The disappearances involved persons last seen in police 
custody; all occured in the first half of the year.  The 
Commander of the Army and the Inspector General of Police both 
issued directives condemning the disappearances and stating 
that perpetrators would be called to account.  However, at 
year's end the Government had not identified or charged those 
responsible for the 1994 disappearances.

The new Government started investigations into past 
disappearances.  In November it established three regional 
commissions to inquire into disappearances occuring after 
January 1, 1988.  Meanwhile the Presidential Commission of 
Inquiry into the Involuntary Removal of Persons continued to 
work slowly on disappearances that occurred after January 
1991.  So far the Commission has completed work on only 70 of 
the 694 cases under its mandate.  However, the number of 
complaints received by the Commission continued to decline.  In 
1994 the Commission received 10 complaints, compared with 63 in 
1993, 181 in 1992, and 725 in 1991.

Also in November, Parliament enacted the Registration of Deaths 
Bill.  This legislation allows the next-of-kin to apply to the 
district registrar of deaths for a death certificate of a 
relative reported missing and presumed to be dead, or who has 
not been heard from for more than a year.

The new Government indicted 11 suspects, including an army 
brigadier general, in the disappearance of 32 boys from the 
southern town of Embilipitiya in 1989 and 1990.  The Government 
charged the suspects with abduction with intent to commit 
murder and conspiracy to abduct with intent to commit murder.  
However, at year's end the Government had taken no legal action 
in the Vantharamulle case, in which Army troops reportedly 
abducted 158 persons from a refugee camp in Batticaloa district 
in 1990.  Observers maintain that there is credible evidence 
identifying the alleged perpetrators.

The Government continued to give the International Committee of 
the Red Cross (ICRC) unhindered access to detention centers, 
police stations, and army camps.  This played a role in 
stopping disappearances attributable to the security forces, as 
did the work of the Human Rights Task Force (HRTF), a 
quasi-independent government body set up to register detainees 
held under the Emergency Regulations and the PTA and monitor 
their welfare.

The LTTE was responsible for an undetermined number of civilian 
disappearances in the northeastern part of the island.  Most of 
the 400 to 600 police officers captured by the LTTE in 1990 are 
believed to be dead, as are over 200 security force personnel 
caputured at a battle in Pooneryn in 1993.  The LTTE 
acknowledges holding only 30 security force personnel.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Security forces continued to torture and mistreat detainees and 
other prisoners, particularly during interrogation, although 
the number of torture reports was somewhat lower than in 
previous years.  Most victims were LTTE supporters or advocates 
of the Sinhalese Janatha Vimukhti Peramunk (JVP), a former 
Maoist party which led an insurgency in the southern part of 
the island.  The Government suppressed that insurgency in 
1988-89.

Methods of torture included beatings, especially on the soles 
of the feet, suspension by the wrists or feet in contorted 
positions, burning, near drownings, placing of insecticide or 
gasoline-filled bags over the head, and forced positions, e.g., 
prolonged standing.  Detainees have reported broken bones and 
other serious injuries as a result of their mistreatment.  
Unlike in previous years, there were no reports of rape in 
detention.

In January the Government acceded to the U.N. Convention 
Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment 
or Punishment.  In November Parliament enacted legislation 
making torture a punishable offense.  The Government decided 
that henceforth police officers convicted of abuse would pay 
fines assessed by the courts.  Formerly, the Govenment paid 
such fines.

Torture victims may file a suit for compensation in the Supreme 
Court, which granted awards ranging from $200 to $2,000, and in 
some cases assessed fines against individual army or police 
personnel.  Most cases, however, take a year or more to move 
through the courts.  The Government has not yet developed 
effective mechanisms to prosecute and punish military and 
police personnel responsible for torture.

The LTTE reportedly used torture on a routine basis.  Because 
of the secretive nature of the LTTE, virtually no first-hand 
information is available regarding their use of torture.

Prison conditions are generally poor and do not meet 
internationally recognized minimum standards because of 
overcrowding and the lack of sanitary facilities.  However, the 
Government permitted representatives from the ICRC to visit 
more than 400 places of detention.  Conditions are also 
believed to be poor in prisons operated by the LTTE.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Under ordinary law, authorities must inform an arrested person 
of the reason for arrest and bring that person before a 
magistrate within 24 hours.  In practice, persons detained 
under ordinary law generally appear before a magistrate within 
a few days of arrest.  The magistrate may authorize bail or 
order continued pretrial detention for up to 3 months or 
longer.  Except in limited areas of the northeast, security 
forces may no longer use the Emergency Regulations to detain 
suspects for prolonged periods without court approval.

During the first half of the year, there were continued reports 
that security forces held people incommunicado at secret 
locations--a violation of amendments to the Emergency 
Regulations in 1993.  However, human rights monitors believe 
that such detentions occurred infrequently and for periods of 
only a few days before the detainees were put into the normal 
detention system.  After taking power, the new Government 
announced that it would close all secret detention facilities.  
There were no reported detentions in secret locations after the 
announcement.

After the Government lifted the Emergency Regulations, it began 
to process the backlog of cases:  it arraigned suspected 
felons, dismissed charges for minor offenses, and released 
persons against whom there was no case.  However, the 
Government continued to detain some individuals under the 
Prevention of Terrorism Act, which permits detention without 
charge for up to 18 months.

At year's end, the Government held an estimated 380 detainees, 
down from more than 2,000 in 1993.  Many of these detainees 
were arrested during military operations against the LTTE and 
are held in facilities operated by the army.

The Government modified the Emergency Regulations which 
remained in force in the northeastern part of the island and in 
Colombo.  The change shortened pretrial detention to a maximum 
of 4 consecutive 3-month periods.  A magistrate must order 
further detention.  Detainees may challenge their detention in 
court and sue the Government for violating their civil rights.

Security forces continued to conduct mass arrests of young 
Tamil males--especially after several terrorist bombings in 
Colombo in April--although such arrests were made less 
frequently than in 1993.  Most detainees were released after 
identity checks lasting several hours to several days.  The 
Government justifies the arrests on security grounds, but 
Tamils claim the arrests are a form of harassment.

The Human Rights Task Force (HRTF), a quasi-governmental body 
established to register detainees, continued to investigate the 
legality of detention in cases referred to it by the Supreme 
Court and private citizens.

There were unconfirmed reports that the LTTE detained more than 
2,000 civilians in the northern part of the island.  The LTTE 
did not permit the ICRC or any other humanitarian organization 
to visit its detainees--aside from 30 security force personnel 
and 10 fishermen incarcerated in Jaffna.

In September the LTTE released 10 police officers detained 
since 1990 in response to peace overtures from the new 
Government.  The LTTE holds a number of prisoners of 
conscience, including the poet and women's rights advocate 
Thiagarajah Selvanithy (see Section 2.a.).

The Government does not practice exile.  There are no legal 
provisions allowing or prohibiting its use.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judiciary is independent of executive branch influence.  
The President appoints judges to the Supreme Court, the courts 
of appeal, and the high courts.  The Chief Justice and two 
Supreme Court judges comprise a Judicial Service Commission 
which appoints, transfers, and dismisses lower court judges.  
Judges serve until mandatory retirement age, which is 65 for 
the Supreme Court and 62 for other judges.

In criminal cases, defendants are tried in public by juries.  
They are informed of the charges and evidence against them, may 
be represented by the counsel of their choice, and have the 
right to appeal.  The Government provides counsel for indigent 
persons tried on criminal charges in the high courts and the 
Court of Appeal, but not in other cases; private legal aid 
organizations assist some defendants.

Under the Emergency Regulations, the authorities detained 
suspects for long periods without providing them access to 
legal representation.  However, after the lifting of the 
Emergency Regulations in most parts of the country, the normal 
judicial procedures were restored and defendants in criminal 
cases were again accorded due process.

To avoid possible intimidation, there are no jury trials in 
cases prosecuted under the seldom-invoked Prevention of 
Terrorism Act (PTA).  Defendants in PTA cases have less 
protection than those tried under ordinary laws.  Confessions, 
which are otherwise inadmissible, are allowed in PTA cases, and 
most convictions rely heavily on confessions.  In such cases, 
defendants bear the burden of proof to demonstrate that their 
confessions were obtained by coercion.  Nevertheless, 
defendants in PTA cases have the right to appeal.

In the past, the Government claimed that all persons detained 
under the Emergency Regulations and the PTA were suspected 
members of the LTTE or the JVP.  There is insufficient 
information to determine whether these detainees were political 
prisoners or suspected terrorists.  Nonetheless, the overall 
number of detainees held without charges declined significantly 
(see Section 1.d.).

The LTTE has its own court system in Jaffna, composed of young 
judges with little or no legal training.  The courts reportedly 
impose severe punishments.  However, the courts have no basis 
in law, and essentially operate as extrajudicial agents of the 
LTTE, rather than a judiciary formed by a legal, sovereign 
government.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

The Government generally respects the constitutional 
protections of individual privacy and the sanctity of the 
family and home.  The police obtain proper warrants for arrests 
and searches conducted under ordinary law.

However, the security forces are not required to obtain 
warrants for searches conducted under the PTA (see Section 
1.e.).  The Secretary of Defense is responsible for providing 
oversight for such searches.  There is no judicial review or 
other means of redress for alleged illegal searches under the 
PTA.

The Government is believed to monitor telephone conversations 
and correspondence on a selective basis.  The security forces 
routinely open mail destined for the LTTE-controlled areas and 
seize contraband.

The LTTE routinely invades the privacy of citizens.  In 1990 
the LTTE evicted thousands of Muslim residents from their homes 
in the north.  They currently live in refugee camps.

     g.  Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian 
         Law in Internal Conflicts

Hostilities between the Government and the LTTE continued but 
at a reduced level from 1993.  There were no reports of army 
massacres of Tamil civilians, such as the ones at 
Kokkadichcholai in 1991 and Mailanthani in 1992.  However, the 
security forces killed as many as 150 civilians by the 
indiscriminate or excessive use of force.  Over 250 were killed 
in 1993.  The security forces killed at least 90 persons, and 
injured hundreds of others, in the periodic shelling of the 
LTTE-controlled city of Jaffna.  The LTTE also used excessive 
force, killing an undetermined number of civilians.

During the year, the Government took measures to address the 
problem of civilian casualties.  The air force introduced new 
rules of engagement to reduce inadvertent deaths and injuries 
to civilians.  The security forces also instituted human rights 
instruction in its training courses.

The Government detains very few captured LTTE cadres, as many 
of them themselves with cyanide before capture.  The LTTE 
claims that it kills security force personnel rather than take 
them prisoner.  It admits to holding only 30 security force 
prisoners.  The LTTE is believed to have killed many of the 600 
to 800 police officers and security force personnel it captured 
in recent years.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for the freedom of speech and 
expression but permits restrictions in the interests of 
national security.  Such restrictions were eased by the 
termination of the Emergency Regulations in most parts of the 
country.  Even in regions where the regulations are still 
enforced, the Government eliminated the stipulation for lengthy 
prison terms for "inciting feelings of disaffection, hatred or 
contempt of the president or the Government" or "creating 
discontent or disaffection among inhabitants."

The Government controls the country's largest newspaper chain, 
a major television station, and the Sri Lankan Broadcasting 
Corporation.  However, a variety of independent newspapers, 
journals, radio and television stations provide an unimpeded 
range of views and openly criticize the Government and 
political parties.  The Government maintains a monopoly on the 
broadcast of local news, but networks may broadcast 
foreign-produced international news without deleting stories 
concerning Sri Lanka.

Under the former UNP Government, many journalists alleged that 
the Government sought to control the press by limiting the 
issuance of import licenses for newsprint and the placement of 
government advertising.  However, journalists did not make such 
allegations after the new Government took office in August.

Journalists and civil libertarians also complain that the 
Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act stipulates an unlimited 
fine or up to 2 years' imprisonment for anyone who criticizes a 
member of Parliament.  Although the Government did not invoke 
the law in 1993 or 1994, journalists and civil libertarians 
complain that the act is an unjustified infringement on freedom 
of the press.

The LTTE does not tolerate freedom of expression.  It tightly 
restricts the print and broadcast media in areas under its 
control, and has often killed those who criticize it.  The LTTE 
has detained Thiagarajah Selvanithy for over three years, and 
has repressed the University Teachers for Human Rights, a human 
rights group formerly based in the Jaffna peninsula.

The Government generally respects academic freedom.  It also 
removed restrictions on campus political activity with the 
lifting of the Emergency Regulations.  The LTTE does not 
respect academic freedom, and has repressed and killed 
professors who criticize it.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Government generally respects the constitutional freedoms 
of assembly and association.  Although the Prevention of 
Terrorism Act may restrict such freedoms, the Government did 
not use the Act for that purpose in 1994.  The Government 
routinely granted permits for demonstrations, including those 
held during the parliamentary and presidential elections.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution establishes Buddhism as the official religion, 
but also provides for the right for members of other faiths to 
practice their religions freely.  Foreign clergy may work in 
Sri Lanka, but for more than 30 years, the Government has 
prohibited the entry of new foreign Jesuit clergy.  It permits 
those already in the country to remain.

Evangelical Christians, who constitute less than 1 percent of 
the population, have expressed concern that their efforts at 
proselytization are occasionally met with hostility and 
harassment by the local Buddhist clergy and others opposed to 
their work.  They sometimes complain that the Government 
tacitly condones such harassment; however, there is no evidence 
of this.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Constitution grants every citizen "freedom of movement and 
of choosing his residence" and "freedom to return to Sri 
Lanka."  The Government generally respects the right to 
domestic and foreign travel.  During the year, the Government 
eased travel restrictions in the eastern part of the island 
because of the decline in insurgent activity.  The termination 
of the Emergency Regulations also reduced travel restrictions.  
However, government security measures have the effect of 
restricting the movements of Tamils, especially young males.

The LTTE restricts the movement of Tamils in areas under its 
control.  It levies a large "exit tax" from persons wishing to 
travel to areas under government control, requiring them to 
leave all of their property in escrow.  In order to ensure that 
travelers return, the LTTE often grants permission to only one 
family member to travel at a time.  The LTTE does not allow 
displaced persons living in areas under its control to return 
to their homes in government-controlled areas.

An estimated 558,000 citizens have been displaced by the 
insurgency.  Most live in camps financed by the Government and 
non-governmental organizations (NGO's).  An estimated 69,000 
Tamil refugees live in camps in southern India.  Another 
100,000 refugees have been integrated into the Tamil society of 
southern India.  The Government allows the U.N. High 
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to operate freely.  UNHCR 
assisted in the repatriation of over 8,000 refugees from India.

The Government does not permit the entry into the country of 
refugees, nor does it aid those who manage to enter yet seek 
permanent residence elsewhere.  There were no instances of 
forcible repatriation.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Citizens have the constitutional right to change their 
government through periodic multiparty elections based on 
universal adult suffrage.  Citizens exercised this right during 
parliamentary elections in August, when the PA ended the 
17-year rule of the UNP, and during the presidential election 
in November, when PA presidential candidate Chandrika 
Kumaratunga won 62 percent of the vote (also see the 
Introduction).  International election monitors judged the 
elections to be free and fair.

However, the LTTE refused to allow elections in areas of the 
Jaffna district under its control.  The UNP Government 
therefore restricted polling in this area to a few off shore 
islands.  It denied the opportunity to vote to displaced 
persons in refugee camps outside Jaffna district.

Nine of the 10 Jaffna seats were won by candidates from pro-UNP 
government Tamil groups, whose armed militias intimidated 
voters.  Although the election was marred by 25 murders (see 
Section 1.a.), the harassment of voters appeared equally 
divided among the parties and did not appear to be an official 
government or party policy.  The harassment did not have any 
discernible affect on the election's outcome.

The Commissioner of Elections recognizes 26 parties; 9 hold 
seats in the 225-member Parliament.  The two most influential 
parties generally draw their support from the majority 
Sinhalese community.  Historically, these two parties have 
alternated in power.  There are some 29 Tamil and 20 Muslim 
members of Parliament.

Although there are no legal impediments to the participation of 
women in politics or government, the social mores in some 
communities limit women's activities outside the home.  In 
August voters elected a woman Prime Minister for the second 
time in Sri Lanka's history.  In November, for the first time, 
a woman was elected president.  Eleven women hold seats in the 
Parliament; one is a minister without portfolio; one is the 
Minister of Transport, Environment and Women's Affairs; and 
four are deputy ministers.

The indigenous people of Sri Lanka, known as Veddas, number 
less than 1,000.  There are no restrictions on their 
participation in politics.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

There are several local human rights groups, including the 
Movement for Interracial Justice and Equality (MIRJE), the 
University Teachers for Human Rights, the Civil Rights Movement 
(CRM), and the Law and Society Trust (LST), which monitor civil 
and political liberties.  The Government eliminated the 
Emergency Regulations which had regulated the activities of 
local and foreign NGO's.  The former Government did not respond 
to the NGOs' human rights inquiries and reports.  However, the 
new Government appears more receptive to such groups.  For the 
consecutive second year, human rights monitors did not receive 
death threats.

The Government made significant progress in implementing a 
14-point "Program of Work" to which it voluntarily committed 
itself during a meeting in February with the UNHRC (see the 
Introduction).  The program, designed to raise human rights 
practices to an internationally acceptable standard, included, 
inter alia, the following:  revision of the Emergency 
Regulations; pursuit of accountability; enactment of 
legislation to prohibit torture; implementation of the 
recommendations made by the United Nations Working Group on 
Disappearances; and continuation of efforts for a negotiated 
settlement to the LTTE insurgency.

The Government invited international observers to monitor both 
the August parliamentary election and November presidential 
election.  There were no reports of interference with these 
groups.

The Government continued to provide ICRC with virtually 
unrestricted access to detention facilities.  At the 
Government's request, the ICRC supervised the delivery of food 
and medical supplies into the war zone and provided human 
rights training materials to the security forces.

Several international groups provide humanitarian relief to 
those affected by the conflict in the northeast.  The 
Government does not hinder their activities, aside from 
security concerns.  Some of these groups conduct activities in 
LTTE-controlled areas.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

     Women

Women have equal rights under national civil and criminal law.  
However, issues related to family law, including divorce, child 
custody, and inheritance, are adjudicated by the customary law 
of each ethnic or religious group.  These legal practices often 
result in discrimination against women.

The Constitution guarantees equal employment opportunities in 
the public sector, but women have no legal protection against 
discrimination in the private sector where they are sometimes 
paid less than men for equal work.  In 1993 the Government 
signed the International Charter on Women's Rights, but has not 
yet passed enabling legislation.  Several NGO's promote women's 
rights.

According to at least one NGO, spousal violence is a serious 
problem.  There are no laws on spousal violence but the 
Government has established a National Committee on Women which 
will recommend appropriate legislation.  To date the Committee 
has identified as grave problems sexual assault, rape, and 
other forms of violence--particularly directed against female 
domestic servants.  Most of its work concerns job 
discrimination because most women are unwilling to report 
physical and sexual abuse.  Women's groups also report that the 
sympathies of police and judicial officials often lie with the 
accused male rather than the aggrieved female.  However, the 
Government has prosecuted numerous persons accused of sexual 
abuse and rape.

     Children

The Government is committed to protecting the welfare and 
rights of children, but is constrained by lack of resources.  
There is a significant problem of child prostitution in certain 
coastal resort areas.  A government survey published in January 
concluded that there are approximately 2,000 active child 
prostitutes, but private groups claim the number is much 
higher.  Most of these prostitutes are boys who sell themselves 
to foreign tourists.

In May the Government initiated a campaign against child abuse 
and exploitation.  The Department of Education and several 
NGO's developed a program to educate the public about the 
dangers of child prostitution, including AIDS.  A 
government-appointed committee submitted a report recommending 
legislation on child labor and prostitution, but at year's end 
no legislation had been introduced in Parliament.  NGO's 
attribute the problem of exploitation of children to the lack 
of law enforcement rather than inadequate legislation.

There have been reports that rural children working as domestic 
servants in urban households have been abused by their 
employers.  Some of these children have reportedly been 
starved, beaten, sexually abused, and forced into 
prostitution.  The Government does not effectively enforce the 
laws designed to protect these children (see Section 6.c.)

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

There are approximately 1 million Tamils of comparatively 
recent Indian origin living in Sri Lanka.  About 85,000 of 
these people do not qualify for either Indian or Sri Lankan 
citizenship and face discrimination, especially in the 
allocation of government funds for education.  However, the 
Government has stated that none will be forced to depart the 
country.

Tamils maintain that they have long been the victims of 
systematic discrimination in university education, government 
employment, and in other matters controlled by the Government.  
However, in recent years there has been little evidence of 
overt discrimination in university enrollment or government 
employment.

     Religious Minorities

Discrimination based on religious differences is less common 
than discrimination based on ethnic group or caste.  In 
general, the members of the various faiths tend to be tolerant 
of each other's religious beliefs.  However, Evangelical 
Christians have been harassed for their attempts to convert 
Buddhists to Christianity (see Section 2.c.).

In the northern part of the island, LTTE insurgents expelled 
from their homes some 46,000 Muslim inhabitants in 
1990--virtually the entire Muslim population.  The LTTE has 
expropriated Muslim homes, lands, and businesses, and 
threatened Muslim families with death if they attempt to return.

     People with Disabilities

The law does not mandate accessibility to buildings or 
government services for people with disabilities.  The World 
Health Organization estimates that 7 percent of the population 
is disabled.  Most disabled people who are unable to work are 
cared for by their families.  The Department of Social Services 
runs eight vocational training schools for the physically and 
mentally disabled and sponsors a program of job training and 
job placement for graduates.  The Government gives some 
financial support to nongovernmental organizations assisting 
the disabled, subsidizes prosthetic devices and other medical 
aids for the disabled, makes some purchases from disabled 
suppliers, and has registered 74 schools and training 
institutions for the disabled run by NGO's.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Government respects the constitutional right of workers to 
establish labor unions.  Any seven workers may establish a 
union, adopt a charter, elect leaders, and publicize their 
views.  About 50 to 60 percent of the nonagricultural work 
force, which is about 25 to 30 percent of the total work force, 
is unionized.  Most workers in large private firms are 
represented by unions, but those in small-scale agriculture and 
in small businesses do not belong to unions.

Most large unions are affiliated with political parties and 
together play a prominent role in the political process.  More 
than 30 labor unions have political affiliations, but there are 
also a small number of unaffiliated unions.

Through September, the Department of Labor registered 210 new 
unions and cancelled the registration of 61 others.  The 
Department of Labor is authorized by law to cancel the 
registration of any union which does not submit an annual 
report.  That requirement is the only legal grounds for 
cancellation of registration.

All workers, other than civil servants and workers in 
"essential" services, have the right to strike.  By law, 
workers may also lodge complaints with the Commissioner of 
Labor, a labor tribunal or the Supreme Court to protect their 
rights.  Under the Emergency Regulations, the Goverment 
controlled strikes by declaring some industries to be 
"essential."  After the Government terminated the Emergency 
Regulations, it removed such industries from that category.  
However, the President retains the power to designate any 
industry as an essential service.  The International Labor 
Organization (ILO) has pointed out to the Government that 
essential services should be limited to services where an 
interruption would endanger the life, personal safety, or 
health of the population.

Civil servants may collectively submit labor grievances to the 
Public Service Commission but have no legal grounds to strike.  
However, workers in the Post Office, Telecommunications Bureau, 
Electricity Board and Port Authority staged brief stikes and 
other work actions in 1993 and 1994.  There were 246 strikes in 
1994, 75 in the agricultural sector and 171 in the industrial 
and other sectors.

The law prohibits retribution against strikers in nonessential 
sectors.  Employers may dismiss workers only for indiscipline.

Unions are free to affiliate with international bodies and many 
of them have done so.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The law provides for the right to collective bargaining and it 
is widely practiced.  In enterprises that do not have unions, 
work councils--composed of employees, employers, and often a 
public sector representative--are the forums for collective 
bargaining, though the councils are not mandatory outside the 
Export Processing Zones (EPZ'S) and do not have the power to 
negotiate binding contracts.

The law does not require management to recognize unions, and in 
some cases, employers have declined to recognize the unions in 
their factories.  However, the law prohibits antiunion 
discrimination.  Employers found guilty of such discrimination 
are required to reinstate workers fired for union activities, 
but have the right to transfer them to different locations.

Workers in the EPZ's have the same right to join unions as 
other workers.  However, employers in the EPZ's offer higher 
wages and better working conditions, thus discouraging union 
activity.  In the place of unions, workers in the EPZ's are 
represented by organizations known as Joint Consultative 
Councils (JCC's), which are chaired by the Government's Board 
of Investments (BOI) and consist of equal delegations from 
labor and management.  During the second half of the year, 
workers in the EPZ's staged several strikes over wages, 
benefits, and worker rights.  In some cases, they took hostages 
and violently confronted the police.  The new Government 
mediated an end to the strikes.  Management granted modest pay 
raises and the Government prosecuted the strikers who engaged 
in violence.

In most instances, Wage Boards establish minimum wages and 
conditions of employment, except in the EPZ's where wages and 
work conditions are set by the BOI.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by law.  According to 
some reports, rural children are sometimes employed in debt 
bondage as domestic servants in urban households.  The 
Government does not have sufficient resources to protect these 
children from such exploitation.

The LTTE conscripts high-school age children for work as cooks, 
messengers, and clerks, and in some cases, pressed children 
into builiding fortifications.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

In 1993 the Government raised the minimum age for employment to 
15 years from 14 years.  However, the law permits the 
employment of children below the age of 15 by their parents or 
guardians in limited agricultural work.  It also permits 
employment in any school or institution for training purposes.

Persons under 16 may not be employed in any public performance 
in which life or limb is endangered.  Until recently, children 
under 14 years could be employed in the plantation industry, 
but in 1991 the Government prohibited such employment after it 
ratified ILO Convention 10.

Children are not employed in the EPZ's, the garment industry, 
or any other export industry.  About 85 percent of the children 
below the age of 16 attend school.  The law provides that the 
employment of such persons is permitted for not more than 1 
hour on any day before school.

Despite legislation, some child labor still exists.  Some 
children work in the informal sectors, including the 
manufacture of coconut fiber products, fishing, wrapping 
tobacco, street trading, domestic service, and farming.  
Government inspections have been unable to eliminate these 
forms of child labor.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

There is no national minimum wage, but some 38 wage boards set 
minimum wages and working conditions according to sector and 
industry.  Current minimum wage rates average $32 (1,550 
rupees) a month in industry and commerce; $30 (1,450 rupees) a 
month in the service industry; and $1.50 (72 rupees) a day in 
agriculture.  The minimum wage in the garment industry is $41 
(2,000 rupees) a month.  The minimum wages are insufficient to 
support a worker and the standard family of five, but most 
families have more than one breadwinner.

The Department of Labor effectively enforces the minimum wage 
law.  Most permanent full-time workers are covered by laws that 
prohibit them from working regularly more than 45 hours per 
week (a 5 1/2 day work week).  Such workers also receive 14 
days of annual leave, 14 to 21 days of medical leave, and some 
20 holidays each year.  Maternity leave is available for 
permanent and casual female workers.  Employers must contribute 
12 to 15 percent of a worker's wage to an employee's provident 
fund and 3 percent to an employees trust fund.  Employers who 
fail to comply may be fined.

Several laws protect the safety and health of industrial 
workers.  The government provides nationwide programs on health 
and safety issues to increase worker awareness.  However, the 
Department of Labor's small staff of inspectors is inadequate 
to enforce compliance with the laws.  Workers have the 
statutory right to remove themselves from situations that 
endanger their health, but many workers are unaware of, or 
indifferent to, health risks and fear they would lose their 
jobs if they removed themselves.

(###)


[end of document]

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