Pressure to release Lankan war refugees

COLOMBO: An international rights group today urged Sri Lanka

to immediately free hundreds of thousands of war refugees detained in military-run camps before monsoon rains create serious health problems in the camps.

Sri Lanka is coming under increasing pressure from human rights groups and foreign governments to free the nearly 300,000 minority Tamils who were forced into the camps after fleeing the final months of the government’s war with the Tamil Tiger rebels earlier this year. Rights groups say the detention is an illegal form of collective punishment.

A delegation of 10 lawmakers from neighbouring

India arrived in Sri Lanka to evaluate the condition of the war displaced.

The group is scheduled to visit camps tomorrow and will meet top government officials and political leaders during their stay, said AP Shakthivel, a government spokesman.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said today conditions in the camps are deteriorating.

Local poll over

COLOMBO: Vote counting got under way in southern Sri Lanka on Saturday after nine hours of polling for the final local council before national elections due next year, officials said. Nearly two thirds of the 1.7 million eligible voters turned out to elect the 55-member Southern Provincial Council, a stronghold United People’s Freedom Alliance. — AFP