Sri Lanka's Assault on Dissent
Dissent is a dangerous undertaking in Sri Lanka.
Following the end of the armed conflict new forms of political and social activism are beginning to emerge but intolerance of criticism is still very much the modus operandi of Sri Lankan government officials. Mounting evidence that violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, in some instances amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity, were committed by parties to Sri Lanka’s protracted armed conflict has fuelled both domestic and international criticism of Sri Lanka’s human rights record and calls for accountability. Sri Lankan officials and those working at their behest assault, jail, abduct and even kill those who challenge their authority; to avoid the legal and political consequences of their war-time actions, they attempt to silence those who could expose the truth.
As described in this report, Sri Lanka is failing to comply with its international obligations torespect and protect the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, as well as other rights. Civil society activists and others who have expressed dissent from the policies and practices of the government, who have spoken up in the defence of human rights, or who have been reporting on events in ways which the authorities deem to be critical, have been subjected to threats, harassment and intimidation, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture and other ill-treatment, and in some cases have been killed; some have fled the country for their own protection and now live abroad. The authorities have also undermined the independence of the judiciary by means of public criticism of judges and judicial institutions, and in some instances threats and intimidation. They have demanded the removal of judges who have made rulings not favourable to the executive.