19 July, 2024

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Civil Society Condemns Abuse Of ICCPR

We the undersigned individuals and organisations are deeply concerned by the continuing abuse of law including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act, No. 56 of 2007 and its selective application to violate the freedom of expression in Sri Lanka. The state has systematically used the ICCPR law, which was meant to promote and protect human rights, to silence and punish human rights defenders, political activists, writers, artists, and lawyers. We strongly condemn the recent arrests of comedian Nathasha Edirisooriya and owner of the SLVlog YouTube Channel, Bruno Diwakara, under the ICCPR Act without recourse to bail. On 21 June 2023, Divakara was released on bail and the ICCPR Act was removed from the case against him. Nathasha Edirisooriya was denied bail under the ICCPR and the Penal code, and remains imprisoned until 05 July 2023. 

Nathasha Edirisooriya

The ICCPR Act was enacted in 2007 to give effect to the ICCPR, which is a core international human rights convention, and to signal that Sri Lanka was effectively implementing its obligations under this treaty. The implementation of the ICCPR Act is a key benchmark with respect to Sri Lanka’s human rights record both nationally and internationally. The United Nations Human Rights Committee, the body responsible for monitoring implementation of the ICCPR, in its review of Sri Lanka in 2023, expressed concern over the abuse of the ICCPR Act “to stifle freedom of expression, as well as the failure of the authorities to grant bail in a timely manner to individuals charged under the Act”. The Committee recommended that Sri Lanka “[r]efrain from prosecuting and imprisoning, including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Act, journalists, media workers, human rights defenders and other civil society actors as a means of deterring or discouraging them from freely expressing their opinions”. The abuse of this law is deeply damaging not only to those being targeted and jailed, but also to Sri Lanka’s attempts to overcome the current political, social, and economic crisis. 

Since its enactment, the ICCPR Act has been repeatedly abused to target human rights defenders, political activists, writers, artists, lawyers, and now comedians. Section 3 (1) of the Act states that “No person shall propagate war or advocate national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence”. The provisions of Section 3 are particularly dangerous, as it empowers the state to arrest and jail those targeted without recourse to bail. Per Section 3 (4) of the Act, a person arrested under this Act is denied access to bail unless through the High Court in exceptional circumstances. In September 2019, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka issued guidelines on the application of the ICCPR Act noting that “the enforcement of section 3 of the ICCPR Act has not been done in a consistent and an even-handed manner”. Recent arrests indicate that the Sri Lankan state has paid scant attention to national or international pressure on its human rights record or use of this law. 

The Sri Lankan state continues to weaponise provisions relating to incitement of national, racial, or religious hatred to stifle the freedom of expression. Its actions have also emboldened chauvinistic and violent extremist groups to target, label and openly threaten individuals for their expressions. In Nathasha Edirisooriya’s case, the comedian received serious online threats for days prior to her arrest on 27 May, 2023. These threats prompted her to attempt to leave the country for her safety. The threats included revealing her personal data and address, threats of physical violence, and repeated threats of arrest. Instead of protecting her, the Sri Lankan authorities arrested the comedian, who remains in jail to date. 

We call for an immediate end to the abuse of the ICCPR Act, legal reform and mechanisms to ensure its proper implementation and prevent abuse. We call  for the release of those held under this law, and that at a minimum, they are provided access to bail while investigations continue. Ethnic and religious harmony remains a challenge in Sri Lanka, where chauvinistic and violent extremist groups are empowered to attack, label, and threaten minorities and those who speak out. Jailing human rights defenders, political activists, artists, writers, lawyers, and comedians, without basis, will only erode trust in a system that is already beset with multiple crises. 

Signatories;

Individuals

  1. A. Ajitha
  2. Ambika Satkunanathan
  3. Amila Dunuwille
  4. Amila Sandaruwan 
  5. Angelica Chandrasekeran
  6. Angeline Ondaatjie 
  7. Anithra Varia
  8. Anoma Wijesuriya
  9. Anuruddha Bandara – Social & Political Activist
  10. Anuruddika Piyasena 
  11. Aruna Paul Simittrarachchi 
  12. Asma Edris
  13. B. Gowthaman
  14. B. Sukitha
  15. Bertha Dharmadasa
  16. Bishop Duleep de Chickera
  17. Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe
  18. Brendan Babapulle
  19. Chaminda Dias 
  20. Chanaka Karunarathne 
  21. Channaka Jayasinghe 
  22. Chandrika Gadiewasam – Freelance Journalist 
  23. D.M. Dissanayake – AAL
  24. Damith Chandimal – Human Rights Activist
  25. Deanne Uyangoda
  26. Denver Peterson – Activist
  27. Deshamanya Godfrey Yogarajah
  28. Dilani Ubayasiri
  29. Dr. Farah Mihlar
  30. Dr. Mareena Thaha Reffai 
  31. Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
  32. Dr. Ranil D. Guneratne 
  33. Dr. Sakuntala Kadirgamar
  34. Dr. Sanjana Hattotuwa
  35. Dr. Shermal Wijewardene
  36. F. Zackariya
  37. Fathima Nabeela Iqbal 
  38. Fuzly Mohamed 
  39. Gamini Akmeemana
  40. Geethika Dharmasinghe
  41. Gehan Gunatilleke – AAL
  42. Gregory Wise
  43. Hilmy Ahamed
  44. Hussain Shamil
  45. Ian Ferdinands
  46. Iranthi Abeyasinghe 
  47. Ishan Jalill – Ability for Action
  48. J.K.H.S.L. Perera 
  49. J. Thayalini 
  50. J. Varayalini  
  51. Janaki Fernandopulle 
  52. Jansila Majeed 
  53. Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala
  54. Jehanki Anandha
  55. Jemima Ahmad
  56. Jenat Silva
  57. Joanne Senn
  58. K.G.R. Dilshan
  59. K. Hemalatha
  60. K. Saththiyaseelan
  61. Kaushalya Ariyarathne
  62. Lakshman Gunasekara – South Asian Free Media Association – Sri Lanka Chapter
  63. M. Nirmalathevi
  64. Madhubhashini R. Rathnayaka
  65. Manjula Gajanayake
  66. Mario Gomez
  67. Marisa de Silva 
  68. Marisa Fernando
  69. Melani Gunathilaka 
  70. Melani Manel Perera – Journalist
  71. N. Arththigan 
  72. N. Krishnakumar
  73. Nagulan Nesiah
  74. Neranjan Maddumage
  75. Nilshan Fonseka 
  76. Niran Wirasinha
  77. Nirasha Fernando
  78. Nishan de Mel – Economist
  79. Parakrama Bokalawela
  80. Pasan Jayasinghe
  81. Pathum Egodawatta
  82. Philip Dissanayake
  83. Premila Naguleswaran 
  84. Prof. Arjuna Parakrama – University of Peradeniya
  85. Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda
  86. Prof. Sumathy Sivamohan – University of Peradeniya
  87. Pujitha Ubayasiri
  88. R. Kounthini 
  89. R. Ranjan – AAL
  90. R. Robinson
  91. R. Saththiya
  92. Rajany Rajeshwary 
  93. Rajkumar Rajeevkanth
  94. Ramya Kumar – University of Jaffna
  95. Ranmali de Zoysa
  96. Rev. Andrew Devadason 
  97. Rev. Dr. Jayasiri T. Peiris
  98. Rev. Fr. Jeyabalan Croos
  99. Rev. Fr. Nandana Saparamadu – Catholic Diocese of Colombo
  100. 100.Rev. Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda
  101. 101.Rev. Sr. Nichola Emmanuel 
  102. 102.Rev. Sr. Noel Christine Fernando
  103. 103.Rohana Hettiarachchi
  104. 104.Ruki Fernando
  105. 105.Rushani Wise
  106. 106.Ruwanthie de Chickera – Artist
  107. 107.Ryan Silva
  108. 108.S.C.C. Elankovan – Lawyer and Development Consultant
  109. 109.S. Easwary
  110. 110.S. Ethayarani 
  111. 111.S. Kopika 
  112. 112.S. Mariyarosalin 
  113. 113.S. Niththika
  114. 114.S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole – Former Member, Election Commission of Sri Lanka
  115. 115.S. Suganthi
  116. 116.S. Tharsan
  117. 117.S. Thileepan
  118. 118.Sabra Zahid 
  119. 119.Sabrina Symons
  120. 120.Sakuna Gamage
  121. 121.Saman Seneviratne
  122. 122.Sandun Thudugala 
  123. 123.Sandya Salgado
  124. 124.Sanjee Goonetilake
  125. 125.Sankha Ranadheera
  126. 126.Sarah Arumugam
  127. 127.Sarath Ratwatte
  128. 128.Senel Wanniarachchi
  129. 129.Serena Burgess
  130. 130.Setunga Mudalige
  131. 131.Shamala Kumar – University of Peradeniya 
  132. 132.Shamalee de Silva
  133. 133.Sharmini Ratwatte
  134. 134.Sheila Richards
  135. 135.Shreen Saroor
  136. 136.Siritunga Jayasuriya 
  137. 137.Sitralega M. – Independent Feminist Researcher, Batticaloa
  138. 138.Soraya M. Deen – Lawyer & Community Organizer
  139. 139.Srinath Perera – AAL
  140. 140.Suchith Abeyewickreme – Civil Society Activist
  141. 141.Sunanda Deshapriya – Journalist, Writer and Human Rights Activist
  142. 142.Suren D. Perera – AAL
  143. 143.Swasthika Arulingam
  144. 144.Tharindu Jayawardhana 
  145. 145.Tharindu Uduwaragedara
  146. 146.Thasneema Dahlan
  147. 147.Themal Ellawala –  Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois, Chicago
  148. 148.Thiagi Piyadasa – AAL
  149. 149.Thilina Madiwala
  150. 150.Thyagi Ruwanathirana
  151. 151.Tisaranee Gunasekara 
  152. 152.V. Shamini 
  153. 153.Ven. Fr. Samuel J. Ponniah 
  154. 154.Vidarshana Kannangara 
  155. 155.Vinuk Ubayasiri
  156. 156.Vraie Cally Balthazaar 

Organisations

  1. Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)
  2. Community Welfare and Development Fund (CWDF)
  3. Forum for A Plural Democracy
  4. Hashtag Generation 
  5. Human Rights Office (HRO), Kandy
  6. Institute for Democratic Reforms & Electoral Studies (IRES)
  7. International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES)
  8. Joint Teacher’s Service Union
  9. Law and Society Trust (LST)
  10. Liberation Movement
  11. Mass Movement for Social Justice (MMSJ), Colombo
  12. Mediall.com Network 
  13. Muslim Women’s Research & Action Forum
  14. National Peace Council (NPC)
  15. North South Solidarity
  16. Right to Life Human Rights Centre
  17. Search for Common Ground 
  18. Sisterhood Initiative 
  19. Solidarity Movement for North and East People’s Struggle
  20. The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka (SLMC)
  21. Vallamai Movement for Social Change
  22. Voice of the Plantation People Organization
  23. Women’s Action Network (WAN)
  24. Women for Justice and Peace in Sri Lanka
  25. Young Journalists Association (YJA)
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Latest comments

  • 8
    0

    If this is the first time ‘Civil Society’ has found it necessary to condemn ‘abuse of Law’, give credit to the Leadership of the nation; If not, note that simply condemning doesn’t go far!

  • 6
    2

    Above, 176 institutions and individuals oppose punishing a targeted individual (after all only an artist) by abusing a UN human right resolution.
    We have seen so many blah, blah from IMF claiming that they acting for Langkang population, but only feeding the rapist Military but not yet talking the right abuse in Langkang.

    All those who are seeing what is happening in Langkang, please, even in your wildest dream don’t’ put forward foundation for new philosophical religion. Resolution and philosophical logic are the ones so easily abused in Langkang by twisting the meaning of the words. Sad part is no deviated believe of religion can be retracted to its originality.

    • 7
      0

      The Magistrate in this case seems to have taken personal offence at Natasha’s comments on Buddhist beliefs. The judiciary should be impartial. It is not their business to deliver moralistic sermons, or be unduly respectful to clergy. Can a person not criticize his or her own religion? Does this apply only to Buddhism? Who decides which Buddhist or other doctrine is the “approved version”? Not Thilina Gamage, I hope.
      If the ICCPR was in operation 2600 years ago, the “son of Suddodhana” would also have been locked up for being provocative.

  • 10
    0

    Fellow CT participants
    Judges should be held liable for abuse of office.
    If the government is reluctant to reprimand unprofessional Judges, the least the government could do is to send such incompetent Judges abroad for re-training.

    • 4
      2

      Right after the war Rowdy Old King organized, using the Rapist Army, a massive crime outbreak in the North. After seeing her own government not acting on that, but following the path of Old Rowdy King, Vijayakala asked, if Leader Prabhakaran was there would the law have deteriorated to that extent. Ranjan Ramanayake condemned Vijayakala, what a traitorous person she was to talk against the Appe Aanduwa like that”. Few months later all judges in the Appe Rata were fraudsters. He was put in prison for 17 years. Ranjan was told to fall on the feet of Evil so he can excuse Ranjan from court decision. Ranjan did but a gag order was imposed on him and all the secret matters took place during the pardon. Ranjan cannot talk about anything. Now there are new cases that were 10 -15 years discarded as useless accusations taken back to investigation.

    • 5
      2

      At the same time, there is no date set for the accusation on Vijeyakala’s. That will come back only if she attempts to stand in the election for Valaiththodam. Vijayakala cannot gamble that who would win, is that Evil Emperor or Valaththodam. Karanam Thappinaal Maranam. So she decided to play low profile in politics until is investigated and sent to prison under PTA. While this is going, her husband’s murderer is a powerful minister in the North. Today IGP said Rapist police are playing a game that is why there are more crimes in West and Southern provinces. So is there somebody to put IGP in for 15 years?

    • 6
      0

      Dear HT,
      In a country dominated by idiots who don’t care much about justice, is this possible?

      Gota, who was the worst ever criminal of the nation, appeared in public again yesterday with the help of that Madagoda Abeytissa Mudalali. Various other dogs were around singing husannas for his return. can you imagine ? Almost everything is upside down, with the direct mediation of Rajaakshes and their slaves.

      They instead try to justify it using karmic stories or the like. Dharma has no precedence in sinhala buddhism. They have chosen, amisa puja , jathaka fictions and gossips.
      :
      For so long these people will not be rational, this cannot be done in Sri Lanka. Most of them do not care about justice.

      Although the liberal education licensed them to become lawyers, judges or similar persons, after obtaining it they became commercial. The same goes for doctors and nurses or similar graduates.
      .
      Although the Rajapaksa misadminitrations produced such judges, this situation did not change in this country also in the past.
      :
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDvHKL34Fwk

  • 11
    0

    The main culprits that propagate disharmony, discrimination and hatred are living free and engaging in their despicable actions with impunity while innocent people are imprisoned. The necessary qualification to remain free are if they support the regime, are part of the regime, or have financial arrangements that benefit the political parties that form the govt or are part of the criminal gang that infests parliament. Those people who speak out against injustice and corruption or are in some way “insulting” of a religion icon (no matter that the vast majority of its nominal “followers” do exactly the opposite of what the religious icon preached), then they are prime targets for persecution and witch hunting. The judiciary is beholden to the criminal cabal in power and do their bidding and no justice is served to the people. Therefore the people, whose will is supreme, have every right to oust those in power and claim back their country.

    • 4
      0

      The Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 16th December, 1966 and entered into force on 23rd March, 1976 and Sri Lanka had acceded to the Covenant on 1st June, 1980 and a substantial parts were included into the constitution of Sri Lanka.

      Further, Sri Lanka had passed a legislation International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ICCPR Act, No. 56 of 2007 and there were other legislations as well.

      .But it has become problematic.

      Sri Lanka had systematically used the ICCPR law, which was meant to protect human rights was actually used to silence and punish human rights defenders, political activists, writers, artists, and lawyers.

      We should strongly condemn these actions of the government in misrepresenting ICCPR for vindictive ends.

  • 2
    2

    I have no issues with Buddhists who understand that way of life and practice it. In Sri Lanka that’s a minority among the majority.

    The yellow cloth is not the religion or way of life. Some wrap it around to mass earthly wealth.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ty2BQMT9iYo&t=57s

    • 5
      1

      Bert,
      Sinhala Buddhist monks are the problem in sl.

      Not even 1 in 100 you will find a good monk in SRILANKA today. I spoke to many and most of laity people thought it is useless to offer alms to them anymore. They are so fed up of offering dana to them.
      I think Rajaakshe-sanga-brigades ruined the buddhist culture in this country. They would never be able to repay sinns back.
      What they do wrong is not setting an example for the laity. Medagoda Abetissa Mudalali and Muruthettuwe Male Nurse are responsible for paving the way for Mahinda Rajapaksa and other criminals to return to power. The amount of mischief caused by these fake monks disguised as Buddha puthrayas is unimaginable.

      • 3
        0

        LM
        “Not even 1 in 100 you will find a good monk in SRILANKA”
        This video from Derana (of all sources!) Is very interesting. It exposes another monk (Namal Uyana) who travels in a BMW.
        .
        https://youtube.com/watch?v=s4Qbf0QBnO8&feature=share7

        • 1
          0

          I spoke of Wanawasee Hamaduruwo ( not Hamuduruwo or monk) and his nature of public statement. He dares to question why not he owns a luxury vehicle,ummagga jathakaya is ignorant by this yellow pet. Those journalists are no better.Their questions are more in favour of the promotion of virulent fake monks. 😃😃😃😃😃
          .

        • 0
          0

          OC,
          .
          The Buddhist monks I have met in Zurich/Switzerland, London/UK, Paris/FraNCE, Losangeles/California/US and Melbourne/Australia have one thing in common, which is that they have renounced almost everything and are attached to nothing.
          :
          All OR many of the Buddhist monks I know in our homeland who strive for V-8 vehicles and other materials are mostly Sinhala buddhist monks in Sri Lanka. They dare to request me, that I should offer them a dozen of “smart phones”. The shameless yellow pets scratched their ears before me, not being able to respond me, when I cross-examined, why on earth would they make such demands.

          Can you imagine ?

          I told them defamatingly, I will give them Viagra pills, sex toys and some cheap Sri Lankan type teledrama actresses who are hired cheaply by the mythical promoters of that country. They did, “give me a cowardly grin”: that’s why I today offer food and other things to animals and the elderly today more than ever before.

  • 3
    0

    Sri Lankan investigative agencies invoking the ICCPR Act is like the Devil (mis)quoting the Scriptures.

  • 3
    1

    Only reason this girl is targeted so much is because she is a woman! Women cannot be giddy in Lankan society, only the men. All these fellows who enjoy all kinds of off-color jokes can’t bear that the woman can do the same thing and can do so with greater cuteness and skill. Jealousy, nothing else.

    If Sri Lanka is serious it’s about Buddhist Samsaric journey (and much of it will be about being reborn on the same Isle), best is that she is only sent for Agama lessons and giving rationalization why her style of comedy might not suit the Motherland at these trying times. The rationale: Her jokes might do quite well in a country now facing starvation. You see, the starving people have no other recourse than to indulge deeply in the religion (any religion), however how ridiculous the customs may be.

    • 2
      0

      Correction: Her jokes might NOT do quite well in a country now facing starvation.

    • 1
      0

      “Only reason this girl is targeted so much is because she is a woman!”

      So how come Diana is still in parliament?

  • 0
    0

    The meaning of Monk: a member of a religious community of men typically living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. So can you use the term of Monk in conjunction with Buddhist?

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