3 March, 2021

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Sri Lankan Government Suffocating Dissent And Obstructing Justice For Historic Crimes Says Amnesty Report

The Sri Lankan Government has launched a renewed crackdown on dissent that is severely curtailing civil society freedom and obstructing efforts to deliver justice for conflict-era crimes under international law, said Amnesty International, in a new report published today.

The report, Old ghosts in new garb: Sri Lanka’s return to fear, exposes how the Sri Lankan government has targeted human rights organisations, media, lawyers, political opponents, and law enforcement officers in a concerted bid to suppress opposing voices and hamper the transitional justice process for crimes committed during the country’s 30-year armed conflict.

“Over the past year, the Sri Lankan government has radically transformed the country’s civic space, which is now defined by an increasing hostility and intolerance towards dissenting voices,” said David Griffiths, Director of the Office of the Secretary General at Amnesty International.

“People from all walks of life have been threatened, intimidated, harassed and jailed, simply for expressing views or doing their jobs in ways that displease the authorities. The Sri Lankan government must cease this campaign against dissent and respect its obligations under international law to protect freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, the right to personal security, and freedom from arbitrary detention.”

Since withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council-driven justice and reconciliation process for conflict-era crimes in February 2020, the authorities have cracked down on those pursuing justice while deliberately hindering ongoing efforts to secure justice and accountability.

Amnesty International is calling on the UN Human Rights Council to implement the recommendations of a damning report on Sri Lanka published by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights last month, when it meets from 22 February to 23 March. This includes more robust monitoring and reporting on the human rights situation, and the collection and preservation of evidence for future prosecutions.

“The international community must not turn a blind eye to the deteriorating human rights situation in Sri Lanka, which is being abetted by the government’s regressive moves on justice and accountability. The Human Rights Council must take steps to end the cycle of impunity by holding the Sri Lankan government fully to account, and launching a new internationally agreed justice process,” said David Griffiths.

Justice and Accountability

Amnesty International’s findings reveal a pattern of targeting those who have played an active role in investigating, documenting, litigating, or reporting on human rights violations and abuses, and advocating on behalf of the victims, including at least six incidents where lawyers were targeted.

The country’s draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act was used, among others, against Hejaaz Hizbullah, a prominent minority rights advocate and lawyer, who has been detained for 10 months, without a shred of evidence of wrongdoing produced before a court.

Attorney Achala Senevirathne, who appeared on behalf of families of the disappeared in an enforced disappearance case, has been threatened with violence and sexualized abuse not only on social media but also by officials accused in the case.

Criminal investigators who pursued justice for crimes under international law have also come under increased scrutiny. The former director of the Criminal Investigations Department was demoted and later arrested for allegedly fabricating evidence in a case. He remains in custody and believes he is being targeted in reprisal for leading investigations in cases of abuses allegedly committed by the armed forces.

Members of the military leadership that were in command during the last phase of the war, when allegations of human rights and humanitarian law violations are widespread, were rewarded with promotions and positions of power under the new administration, including to civilian positions. This has had a chilling effect on victims demanding justice.

The report also details how legislative amendments brought by government have undermined any credible avenues locally available for justice, and how President-appointed Commissions of Inquiry are attempting to reverse accountability for perpetrators of human rights violations.

Assault on civic space

The Sri Lankan government did not waste any time in introducing new instruments and techniques to muzzle dissent.

State actors have led smear campaigns against NGOs and human rights organisations, while journalists have received death threats and have been summoned for investigations and interrogations after exposing human rights abuses.

Visits by state security officials to the offices of human rights NGOs have increased over the past fourteen months. Amnesty International recorded 18 such visits in that period, during which officials made enquiries about registration details, staff and donors’ bank details. Some staff members were even visited at their private residences.

Laws are also being misused to stifle free speech, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act, which was used to arrest and detain Ramzy Razeek for more than five months without charge or proper access to a lawyer, for a Facebook post in which he criticised the forced cremation of COVID-19 victims and called for an ideological struggle using the pen and keyboard as weapons.

Background

The report, Old ghosts in new garb: Sri Lanka’s return to fear, is available here.

The OHCHR report, published on 27 January 2021, is available to download here.  The Human Rights Council will meet for its 46th session from 22 February to 23 March, during which Canada, Germany, Montenegro, North Macedonia and the UK – the current core group of states leading on Sri Lanka – are expected to present a resolution in follow-up to the OHCHR report.

Amnesty International published an assessment of the situation in Sri Lanka, setting out clear expectations for HRC action, in January 2021.

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Latest comments

  • 7
    2

    Many Reports like this one will be written. But to what purpose? Yes there is a a dictator in power. Along with his sycophants they live in a alternate reality. In this dystopia criminals are good guys and the honest law enforcers are jailed. The honest juges are side lined or threatened and the absolutely incompetent sycophants rewarded. So where does this end? What can the international community do? If a military coup can happen in Burma where Aung San Suu Kyi can win in a landslide with 80% of the vote and still be overthrown and arrested. There are no checks to abuse of power in Buma. Then how can any external pressure be exerted on Sir Lanka when the majority voted to cut their own tongues off. It is the will of the Sinhala Buddhist to support the current abuses only reports can be written.

    • 5
      0

      I am of opinion that when one is unable to express his opinion due to fear of reprisal from the government is also a violation of fundamental rights.

  • 3
    3

    We do not need reports. Only firm and resolute action. Enough of talking. Action only.

  • 2
    3

    The problem in SL is everything is looked at from the racist point of view.

    Only solution is to split the island into 3 mono ethnic nations equitably. Sinhala Only nation, Tamil Elam and Muslim Elam.

    Until then these will continue.
    Don’t forget, some thrive under these conditions!

    • 0
      0

      @GATAM
      The need to divide ourselves have spilt enough blood and our motherland has been soaked with blood of our own people.
      Ethnicity is very important as an identity , it must only be to celebrate diversity and not to destroy lives .
      My opinion is , Relugio

    • 1
      0

      @GATAM
      The need to divide ourselves have spilt enough blood and our motherland has been soaked with blood of our own people.
      Enough of bloodshed.

      Ethnicity is very important as an identity , it must only be to celebrate diversity and not to destroy lives .

      My opinion is , Religion as far as I am concerned is man made to organize a fraternity of a common faith or away of life and most importantly ,while each religion has its own dogmas that indoctrinate its adherents , it must also be able to unite its members to care for eachothers well-being and not blame others in failing to do so, and encourage to embrace all not hate or compel others with their creed

      The feeling of complacency is a frustration liberals experience with members of almost all religions, no one who profess any religion has any legitimacy over any individual to judge condemn or compel.

      Religion and ethnicity both must remain as a very personal affair nothing more.

      Finally, everything perishes on earth, it’s only a matter of time, your ethnicity perishes and it is only refered as the dead ; not even your name,none will accompany you, not even the members of your Religous fraternity, you will carry what your conscience hold.

  • 6
    2

    Those who stood against Rajapakshes were well aware of the situation, while Rajapakshes and his voters dreamt of other way around. So, as a country we are fallen that deep today, …. but people are made to believe that Rajapakhes ( provable high criminals) would do lot more good ….. see… even midieval times,.. greeks would not have been this much of blind and deaf.

    Rajapakshe family rule and their politics is entwined with sinhala buddhism (which is not real buddhism, but a home made life style to survive their trickery):

    Those monks wearing SO CALLED most powerful constumes by name ” SIVURU” today, behave like the decorated animals on buddhist processions. It is just to divert the mindset of the people (voters of the country).
    .
    Having done all the mess by their own , they the politicians are shameless to utter that it is due to Karma.
    .
    Entire rich countries are the ones most hit by COVID, is it due to Karma ?
    China, Australia, Newzealand and Taiwan are the countries that contained the virus from spread – is that because of Karma ?

    Those monks incl. chief monk of the most sacred Kelaniya Temple,( only formerly) dont have the basic knowledge about country’s politics. If those pseudo monks would be decieved by the perks being offered to them, ironically, monks should not go after any kind of gains.

  • 6
    2

    Entire rich countries are the ones most hit by COVID, is it due to Karma ?
    China, Australia, Newzealand and Taiwan are the countries that contained the virus from spread – is that because of Karma ?

    Those monks incl. chief monk of the most sacred Kelaniya Temple,( only formerly) dont have the basic knowledge about country’s politics. If those pseudo monks would be decieved by the perks being offered to them, ironically, monks should not go after any kind of gains.

    Wearing academic titles, which restrict to srilanka, also abusing the place being given to buddhist monks in the society, these monks are being used by POLITICIANS for their come back. ;Monks would not care much about anything so long they are well respected. They woudl do any low work as Lay people would do. Best example is provided by ATHANA METHANA NATANA rathana… this man is a cancer to parliamentary politics. The other is Abayarama niwaya Anandha thero. He would do any low job forgetting anything and everything on the second day.
    .
    If anyone would join hand prominent monks, he or she would easily be able to cheat the very same gallery of people on and on: Even the simple trick could be used for misleading the island nation effortelssly.

  • 6
    2

    Part 3

    Looking back, even that Dhammika Paniya maker/ a rural man with a visible mental disease could twist the mindset of the masses, regardless of the social class they belong to… middle class people were found among the heavy crowds reported to have visited Pani makers hoouse, most of them were made to beleive, KALIAMMA would take away their viruses in the body ?

    Incumbent Speaker of the parliament, becoming known as the most stupid person to hold that office, has guzzled up the PANIYA in front of minister of health and other ministers sending the message across, they are born stupid
    …. however, being defeated by their public reactions, all these ministers incl. that FAKE professor, behave today as if a defeated dog would make every effort to hide his tail behind the rear legs.
    .
    -They dont care that the world is watching. Just for advantages only rulers would look at the west and rest of developed world. There is a big gap between their interpretations to the world and how it would be re-intrepret to the vulnerable on their return.

  • 4
    8

    The last time I wrote here explaining the history of the island in relation to Gotama Buddha many down voted. I think there were Sinhala people too. This mindset is a result of years of indoctrination. The British removes the Gothama Buddha history from the island. Then American missionaries arrive in the north. The Tamils appear to have been indoctrinated in a certain way to fill the void in history. Another party from America arrives and setup Buddhist schools such as Ananda and Dharmashoka. These schools also indoctrinate the Sinhala people to believe the Buddha is an import from India. The British and the Americans both appear to be responsible. It cannot be a co-incidence Americans involved with indoctrinating both in Jaffna as well as Colombo! The British, USA, Amnesty International, HR Watch et al all appear to be using these people, particularly the Tamils for another agenda.

  • 6
    1

    The world knows that even Sinhalese could not get justice for the crimes committed against the crimes committed by the Sinhala regimes over the decades. This is the pathetic situation in Sri Lanka which is ruled by Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalism which is brutal and horror.

  • 5
    2

    Import of cars are banned from last year.
    Sugar import is to be banned.
    Milk powder too will not be imported.
    Mung Atta will not be imported.
    Letter of credit from Banks in Sri Lanka are not accepted abroad for imports.
    Hard currency has to be paid upfront for imports.

    Sugar daddy China is giving loans for pieces of land in Sri Lanka.
    Some countries feeling sorry are donating covid-19 vaccines to Sri Lanka.
    Tamil people’s lands are grabbed by Sinhalese from the South because they
    can get those free by subjugating them.
    We have big armed forces to pay from borrowed money to protect our
    sovereignty, whatever that means.

    I can go on and on.

    Sinhalese Supremacist racist Appe AAnduwa has brought the country
    to ruins in 73 years.

    So much for the Sinhalese language and civilization that started in the 1300s.

    Three cheers for Sri Lanka, one of the Chinese string of pearls of the Indian Ocean.

  • 4
    1

    UNHRC is not a legal entity & has no clout, particularly, when it comes to powerful nations, such as, Russia, China & oil rich countries. Apart from the international bad publicity, the outcome of UNHCR rulings is nothing & any sanctions, the worst case scenario, would only effect the average citizen. Nevertheless, the indirect impact on a disgraced country in the form of lack of aid, direct investment, preferential trade, technical assistance & even a drop in tourism, is inevitable. The bottom line is that it is the average citizen who suffers due to the arrogance & abuse of power by the govt. & I hope those, & their families, responsible for this state of affairs will be considered ‘persona non grata’ in the developed countries & their ill gotten assets frozen.

  • 5
    2

    Forcing accountability on a smaller developing nation , while not to do same with powerful rich nations and handpicking to favour smaller nations with the worst human rights records which is going to date is an insult to the global judiciary.
    The internatio

    • 5
      0

      Lanka,

      It is same as “Oppressing smaller communities by larger communities”.

  • 3
    0

    Cont,
    For one it’s continued hypocrisy of not serving equal justice to all , small , big , poor or rich, is a shame on the members who are suppose to only do so..
    These men and women have regretfully and on regularly basis abondon their responsibilities when the civilians have desperately needed it most, in Sri Lanka they should have stayed back and called on ngos and Religous organizations and negotiated to either remove the civilians or move them to a safer place, instead of packing up and abandoning them.
    It has happened in Bosnia the most shameful, openly handing over a bus load of innocent helpless civilians to the notorious butcher’s by The Dutch UN peacekeepers and the world watched on while the blood of Bosnians flowed with no remorse , happened in Iraq , and Kampuchia and Ruwanda .
    The Tamils must reconsider to settle this within the boundaries of their nation , none in the battle fields can claim to have observed every single rights to the core, I do not mean that I am condoning such behaviors , but it happens and both parties in every conflict not just our war,have neglected their conscience in battlefields.
    It is only wisdom to sit face to face and resolve it within ourselves and compensate the victims in everyway possible and move on.

  • 4
    0

    What’s new? Judiciary in SL is corrupt.

    • 6
      0

      Buddhist 1. #
      that poor man who cried representing the poor is jailed. I am helpless not being ablet o help him released. I am talking about Ranjana Ramanayake.

      He revealed that MONKS- so called ones how they abused samanera, child monks
      He revealed that Judiciary is corrupted than appeared to be
      He spoke Rajaakshes men and women are high criminals
      He revealed lot more about drug kin pins… that do all the very same job to the manner Kudu Duminda did it until entering the jail… that LANZA should be beheaded on an open rally.

      The alcohol/drug barrons got exonerated from their investigations. Silent majority would not even question as to why Rajakshes would not fulfil a single pledge as made on the stage ?

      My tribute to RR forever. He may be not polite, but he revealed as no others.

  • 3
    1

    To bow , to join hands in gesture, the Sufi mystic’s kiss of his saint’s Tomb , and to prostrate wheather be it to a statue, parents , gurus or elders are all
    But a gesture of reverence and not Idol worship and so are rituals.
    It’s more like a feudal allegiance.

    For worship means to serve,
    Every good deed in thought and action is thus a fulfillment of the obligations
    of one’s Faith or fulfilling a the guidance of whoever you rever
    _____
    Above all there is only one real Idol it invisible and consumes everyone and everything , it’s Ones Ego , there is nothing more evil , unforgivable and thee only Enemy of man.
    Ego vials wisdom and obstructs the awakening of the devine presence within every human being by preventing forgiveness and compassion.
    It is not fitting for any God or God man or men of God or any human to prefer vegence than to forgive.
    We all as humans urge for compassion and forgiveness , so why not we want to forgive others?
    In forgiveness alone lies peace .

    • 1
      0

      Pardon
      Auto correct mispel
      veil not vial.

  • 3
    1

    Today , than ever before there is a desperate call to consider a total forgiveness of all those who were part of The LTTE,who have been locked away for years and others of lesser crime and those who are yet to be proven guilty and I pray to see a day when no man be put behind a cell and instead find an alternative to either pay by ransom to compensate the victim or families, let every person be what he or she is guilty not be behind any cell nor their ankles and hands be chained , let them have an opportunity to reproduce themselves,, if any human being is required by no other option but to be secluded from society, they should only be secluded in baricated villages and never again in cells.
    My faith represents nothing but Mercy..
    May peace prevail .

  • 2
    1

    There comes a time when we realise, rituals , reading and studying a whole library, will not answer the most crucial question.
    Only independent reasoning ,rationalism ,logic.
    IF part of spirit of God is in us , then ,
    Obvious, if the one who have wronged another does not seek forgive and make peace , the system is already in place, no need to chase vegence and waste your valuable short life on earth.
    The devine within will take care of the inevitable devine justice.

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