15 June, 2024


New Report Reveals Tourism Development In SL Has Resulted In Human Rights Abuses

Two human rights organisations, the Society for Threatened Peoples and Sri Lanka Campaign, have called upon the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to ensure that the prevalent tourism strategy changes as the tourism development programs followed during the past few years have resulted in gross human rights abuses.

Sri LankaSwitzerland based, the Society for Threatened Peoples has compiled a report based on a study they conducted titled ‘Dark Clouds over the sunshine paradise – tourism and human rights in Sri Lanka’ that reveals that systematic human rights abuses have occurred in the country due to tourism development and particularly due to the military involvement in tourism development.

The report notes that human rights abuses have occurred due to:

  • Access for fishermen to the sea, being blocked
  • Land grabbing
  • Local population being insufficiently informed about planned tourism projects

The report states that through their study it was found that over 1200 families were affected in the newly development tourist regions including Kuchchaveli, Passikudah and kalpitiya, due to these issues and notes that, ‘While GoSL spreads the image of a country that has returned to normality, the reality appears much more disturbing. . .’

The study had also found that the military increasingly focusing its budget on tours with the Army, Navy and Air Force operating hotels and increasingly offering tourism activities is problematic as it deprives local population of a valuable income sources and also raises major concerns regarding transparency.

The STP has demanded the following from the tourist agencies to better exercise their due diligence concerning human rights:

  • To refrain from offering hotels built on grabbed land that restrict access for fisherman to the sea that discriminates women, minorities and those that forbid or restrict unionization of employees.
  • Refrain from offering hotels that are managed by the military or offer activities provided by the military as long as it cannot be prov en that it wasn’t based on illegal land grabbing or other human rights abuse
  • Regularly monitor and ensure the exercise of due diligence concerning human rights throughout the entire value added chain including hotels and other tourist activities and ensure no human rights are violation
  • Introduce a grievance mechanism for affected populations
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Latest comments

  • 9

    Apart from these the armed forces are running Tourist hotels business and farming in civilians lands.

    • 13

      This is the progress “appe aanduwa” has achieved in 67 years since independence from the “suddhas”:

      Shame on all the Sinhalese politicians who are collectively responsible over the years for this pathetic situation for the people.

      People of Sri Lanka would definitely have been better off under the colonial rule!

      The country handed over to the racist Sinhala politicians at independence is like giving garlands to monkeys.

  • 8

    “People of Sri Lanka would definitely have been better off under the colonial rule!”

    You’d think We Thamizh would have moved beyond the typical coolie slave mindset after almost 70 years, but evidently not – I guess We Thamizh find it diffcult to forget our true originas in Sri Lanka, even after inventing a bunch of fanciful tales to try and cover them up :D

    • 1

      nice try siva sankaran ‘blacker’ sarma

      • 4

        The truth hurts, I see :D

        • 3

          Wee Thamihz Senior Journalist D: Siva Sankaran Sarma Menon

          “The truth hurts, I see :D”

          Another brilliant comment.

          Its high time you mentioned the word truth.
          What is the truth again?

        • 2

          Wee Thamihz Senior Journalist D: Siva Sankaran Sarma Menon

          “The truth hurts, I see :D”

          At last I found the truth, please read the story below about development, tourism and prostitution. Thanks for your guidance and the clues that you gave us for our search of truth:

          Should prostitution be legalized?

          Less than a week ago, the UPFA member of the Southern Provincial Council, Ajith Prassanna remarked that for the good of the tourism industry, prostitution should be legalized in Sri Lanka.

          Ceylontoday, 2012-11-25

          Should prostitution be legalized?

          By Lashane Cooray and Madusha Erandi

          Less than a week ago, the UPFA member of the Southern Provincial Council, Ajith Prassanna remarked that for the good of the tourism industry, prostitution should be legalized in Sri Lanka.

          He made the controversial statement to the Ministry of Economic Development after returning from a trip to Thailand and Korea.

          He pointed out that more than 40,000 women were already engaged in the business of prostitution, and that more women should be brought to the country from abroad, if the existing number of local sex workers proved to be insufficient.

          If prostitution is legalized in the country, the boost in sex tourism would most probably push Sri Lanka into the ranks of countries such as Colombia, Thailand, Costa Rica and the Netherlands, where sex tourism plays a large part in keeping the economies of these countries afloat.

          Advanced civilization

          As an advanced civilization with a deeply rooted moral background, Sri Lankans are all too aware of the darker, depraved facet of sex tourism, which is the prostitution of young children.

          Studies have shown that 40% of sex workers in Thailand are children, with Brazil having the worst child sex trafficking record after Thailand. Various Laws and Acts have been enacted in many countries to try and control child abuse, but it is still prevalent in many countries.

          The laws often cannot prevent a person from travelling to another country to engage in child prostitution. UNICEF has noted that the reluctance of societies to confront this extremely serious issue stems from their attitude towards sexual activity as being a private matter, leaving children vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

          Human Rights organizations have been fighting child sex trafficking for a long time, citing health, social, cultural and emotional consequences suffered by the children.

          A study carried out by sociologists of the University of Leicester showed that preconceptions about race and gender influenced the opinions of tourists, and that economically under developed tourist-receiving countries portrayed themselves as being ‘culturally different’, so that any social stigma that may have existed among tourists regarding exploitation of women and children was lessened.

          Professor Siri Hettige of the Department of Sociology, University of Colombo, commenting on the issue said, “Prostitution is found in every country in the world, and it is a service in countries such as Holland, where views on such activities are very liberal. This is one extreme of the spectrum. At the other extreme, such activities are criminalized and swift action is taken against individuals involved in this business.”

          Pointing out that Sri Lanka is a country which falls smack in the middle of these two extremities, he said prostitution has been a part of society, albeit an aspect rarely seen by the general public, from time immemorial. In Amsterdam, the emergence of prostitution was to a large extent, due to the cross cultural interactions among people, he said adding, “When the tourism industry of a country grows, prostitution will also thrive, whether you like it or not.”

          He also said that it would be extremely difficult for any Government in Sri Lanka to pass a law legalizing prostitution, but added that no extreme actions are being taken against it either. “In a popular democratic set up, there are things which can be done, as well as things which are considered to be beyond the realm of possibility. As Sri Lankans, we sweep a lot of unsavory topics under the carpet,” he said, adding that there was no reason to bother with legalizing prostitution when it already exists in such force in Sri Lanka.

          Religious leaders express their views on the contentious topic

          Rev. Fr. Crispin Leo,

          Spiritual Director of St. Peter’s College, Bambalapitiya

          “We must ask of ourselves, what is more important: Tourism or the image of a morally sound society? By catering to such dangerous desires, we breed disease. In Thailand, this industry has gained a household name among society, but in Sri Lanka, we do not have to sink so low. Why not promote eco tourism? I definitely will not advise this course of action, and we must fight against it. Gambling as well as sex tourism is being promoted in this country. A Buddhist Nation like this, with all its cultural restrictions, must take a stand against this. The morally sound citizens must speak up, and the immoral, vociferous ones be silenced.”

          Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera

          “Sri Lanka is accepted as a Buddhist country and everyone appreciates it as a land which is full of virtuous and moral principles. According to Buddhism, satisfying sexual desires is not prohibited. But there is a dignified manner in which such desires should be taken care of.

          In Africa about 10.8% of the population is suffering from AIDS, including women, children and infants. In Thailand, a majority of the family units have been dissolved.
          With these glaringly obvious consequences staring at us right in the face, how can we legalize something like prostitution in Sri Lanka?”

          Former Deputy Mayor of Colombo Azad Sally

          “This is demeaning to the manhood of the country. They say that this is a Buddhist country and also a spiritual country. We have to bring an end to this ethic corruption. Women have a special dignity in this country, that’s why we call it ‘Our motherland’ without calling it ‘fatherland’. Prostitution should not be legalized. Women’s purity should be protected and respected.

          Babu Sharma,

          Secretary of the International Religious Federation

          “Even in our religion they won’t accept something like this. Everyone will lose their religious traditions. This idea should not be entertained at all.”

          • 0


            I am in general agreement with you that Prostitution and Gambling is bad for society.

            But I disagree with you that their promotion in Sri Lanka is inappropriate because you assume she is “a Buddhist Country” .

            With all due dis-respect to the Mananayakas, the Gnanasaras, and “Sinhala Buddhist” politicians, I strongly disagree. Sri Lanka is not a Buddhist country. What is practiced in Sri Lanka clearly is a synthetic aka sin-the-tic Buddhism.

    • 1

      A lot of Tamils were educated and affluent under British rule because they availed themselves of the education the Brits provided and Tamils had a mercantile streak. So to say Tamils were coolies of the Brits is a gross characterization of the situation , but then you really don’t care about the facts because your whole posting history is one of juvenile digs that are irrelevant to the article.

      Tamils don’t invent History like Sinhala Nationalists who claim to be sons of the soil, related to Veddah and pass themselves off as non Indians.

      • 0

        The fact is that unlike the Tamils, most Sinhalese refused to toil for the British invaders. Do you respect the French who worked for the Nazis in occupied France? The British therefore imported slave labor from S India. These poor people had to walk from Jaffna to the estate areas. The Dutch and British had earlier brought S Indian labor to the East and pushed the Sinhalese out.

        • 1


          “The fact is that unlike the Tamils, most Sinhalese refused to toil for the British invaders.”

          However the Sinhalese in excess of 2 Million are willing to toil and die for Medieval Middle East Kingdom, all because the middle class Sinhala/Buddhists could have fantastic life, importing fine wine, whisky and gas guzzlers as they have been doing it for more than 150 years, while the poor and marginalised Tamils in up country toiled and died for the Sinhala/Buddhists.

          The Sinhala/Buddhist are too proud to work in the plantations even though the colonialists left the island 67 years ago.

  • 0

    The actual report is far more damning than this article has portray. It is more evidence of the roughshod manner in which ‘development’ is taking place, with local commercial interests destroyed, their land grabbed by state and quasi private interests. There really is no credible concept of reconciliation in Sri Lanka.

  • 0

    In addition to the above exploitation of Staff in SRI LANKA happens in a very big way! all of the staff have to work form 7AM -11PM without a break!the labour catagory are paid Over time others get nothing, this happens in every resort hotel! in front of the eyes of the labour department.Only Colombo Hotels have a 8 hour work shift.All other countries have 8 hour work shifts except Sri Lanka who exploit their staff without any thought. HOW many people who stay in hotels know this fact? Where is our labor department? THEY LIKE OUR POLITICIANS ARE SLEEPING !

  • 0

    first we thamiz should say;

    Are the so called owners of these grabbed lands have legal documentation to show that these lands are theirs’ or it is just “Tamils owns the north and east. Because of that, govt or the military can not do anything with those lands ?

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