Leading Rights Groups Denounce Comments Condoning Abuses
November 25, 2013
“Torture is always illegal and immoral, and there is no exception for ‘difficult circumstances.’” Abbott’s remarks give cover to torturers in Sri Lanka and elsewhere, and he should retract them immediately.”
Elaine Pearson, Australia director

(Sydney) – Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott should retract his November 15, 2013 remarks condoning the use of torture in Sri Lanka, Human Rights Watch, the Human Rights Law Centre, Amnesty International Australia, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, and the Castan Centre for Human Rights said today in a letter to the prime minister.

At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo, Abbott said, “we accept that sometimes in difficult circumstances, difficult things happen.”
Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees, including rape, has been widely used by Sri Lankan authorities during and since the nearly three-decade-long civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam that ended in May 2009.

“Torture is always illegal and immoral, and there is no exception for ‘difficult circumstances,’” said Elaine Pearson, Australia director. “Abbott’s remarks give cover to torturers in Sri Lanka and elsewhere, and he should retract them immediately.” 

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