Bowen challenged on human rights

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui HUMAN rights monitors have challenged Immigration Minister Chris Bowen to tackle Sri Lanka’s government over practices of torture and arbitrary detention during a visit to the country.

Mr Bowen will hold talks in Colombo this week and has praised Sri Lanka ahead of the trip for co-operation with Australia against people smuggling.

But the US-based Human Rights Watch has called on Australia to raise concerns over abuses by the authorities.

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”Australian government officials will say they do so privately but should do so publicly as well,” said Elaine Pearson, Human Rights Watch deputy director for Asia.

Ms Pearson told The Age that despite the end of the country’s civil war in 2009, security forces were continuing to commit human rights abuses. Ms Pearson said her organisation had testimony of people deported from Britain then beaten with battens and burnt by cigarettes.

”Three years later we’ve still seen an absolute failure by the government to have any sort of accountability,” she said.

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