US Human Rights report castigates LTTE

By Bandula Jayasekara
The Country Report on the Practice of Human Rights released by the US Department of State yesterday states that the LTTE has implemented its court system through threat of force and expanded the operations of its court system into areas previously under the government’s judicial system in the North and the East. It states that with the expansion of its court system the LTTE has demanded all Tamil civilians to stop using the government’s judicial system. The report also states that the LTTE judges have no legal training and its courts operate without codified or defined legal authority and essentially operates as agents of the LTTE rather than as an independent judiciary.

According to the State Department Report the LTTE courts impose severe punishment including execution and the LTTE also holds a number of political prisoners. It states that it is impossible to determine the numbers because of the secretive nature of the organisation. The LTTE refuses to allow the ICRC to access these prisoners. It alleges that the LTTE routinely invaded the privacy of citizens by maintaining an effective network of informants.

The State Department report states that past eyewitness accounts confirm that the LTTE has executed injured soldiers in the battlefields rather than take them as prisoners. It also states that the LTTE is believed to have killed most of the police officers and security forces personnel captured in the past few years. The report also states that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) occasionally disrupts the flow of persons exiting the Vanni region through the two established and legal checkpoints and taxes civilians travelling through areas it controls.

The report states that in the past the LTTE disrupted the movement of IDPs (Internally Displaced People) from Trincomalle to Jaffna by hijacking or attacking civilian shipping, although there were no such reports this year. The report adds that the LTTE expropriate food, fuel and other items meant for IDPs, thus exacerbating the plight of such persons in LTTE-controlled areas. The report also states that humanitarian groups estimate that more than 200,000 IDPs live in areas under the control of the LTTE. It says that the LTTE continued to commit serious human rights abuses and the LTTE reportedly committed several unlawful killings, and was responsible for disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrest, detentions and extortion and through a campaign of intimidation, the LTTE continued to undermine the work of elected local government bodies in Jaffna.

According to the report the LTTE prevented political and governmental activities from occurring in the north and east and denied those under its control the right to change their government; the LTTE did not provide for fair trials; it infringed on privacy rights; it somewhat restricted the freedom of movement; it used child soldiers and discriminated against ethnic and religious minorities.

The report also states that there were unconfirmed reports that the LTTE continued to commit unlawful killings and due to the inaccessibility of LTTE-controlled areas and the LTTE’s prevention of investigation by outside agencies, the exact number and type of killings in the LTTE—controlled areas are not known. It adds that according to some observers the number of killings was reduced drastically last year.