Colombo (Sri Lanka), May 25, 2017: An investigation revealed that the U.N. deployed thousands of Sri Lankan peacekeepers despite concerns over the country’s human rights record.
Sri Lanka refuses to allow independent investigations into alleged civil war atrocities. It only recently said it investigated fewer than two dozen of the 134 peacekeepers implicated in a Haiti child sex ring in 2007. The AP found that no one was prosecuted, despite testimonial evidence from nine child victims in the case, mentioned AP report.
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When a Haitian teenager said she’d been raped by a Sri Lankan peacekeeper in 2013, Sri Lanka sent a general accused of war crimes to investigate. He never spoke with the victim but cleared the soldier.
U.N. officials said they are sometimes so desperate for peacekeepers they rely on countries they otherwise wouldn’t.
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“There is significant cause for concern that due process and fair trial guarantees may not have been followed in some or all of these cases, and that the very serious allegations concerning the use of torture were not properly investigated,” Colville said.
The U.N. Human Rights Office is urging Egypt to halt all executions and to conduct investigations into all allegations that people are subjected to the death penalty based on confessions obtained under torture.
Egypt has executed 15 people in February and the U.N. Human Rights Office notes the month is not yet over. The agency reports nine people were executed this week in a case related to the killing of Egypt’s General Prosecutor, Hisham Barakat.
Regarding six other killings earlier this month, it says three men were convicted of assassinating a police officer and three others in connection with the murder of the son of a judge.
Human rights office spokesman Rupert Colville said in all cases the defendants have told the court they were subjected to torture to make them confess to the crimes of which they were accused.
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In June 2017, the U.N. Committee against Torture completed a four-year confidential inquiry and concluded that torture is “practiced systematically” in Egypt. Colville told VOA the recent allegations of torture, in almost all of these cases, come against this well-established backdrop that torture is endemic in Egypt.
“If torture was used to make a confession a considerable part of the prosecution’s case, then that should not be admitted in court. That confession produced under torture should not be admissible. And when these allegations have been brought up by the defense lawyers and so on, our belief is they are not being taken seriously enough by the courts,” he said.
Colville said a number of individuals convicted under similar circumstances in Egypt have exhausted all legal proceedings. He says they currently are on death row at imminent risk of execution. (VOA)