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Sri Lanka

    June 26, 2013

    By John Argue, Amnesty International Canada's Coordinator for Sri Lanka

    In November 2013, the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is set to take place in Colombo, Sri Lanka.  Commonwealth countries share a commitment to basic values such as democracy, freedom, respect of human rights, and rule of law.

    Today, June 26, is recognized in and also beyond the Commonwealth as the international day for survivors of torture.  Yet in Sri Lanka, survivors of torture are still vulnerable to human rights violations, and to traumatic feelings of sheer injustice because authorities who committed torture have not even being charged with committing a crime or a human rights violation.

    Thevan (not his real name) is one person who has flashbacks of the impossible days he spent being tortured in a police cell in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo.  Thevan and a friend were both abducted 5 years ago in November, 2008, by men who drove a white van, and taken to a detention centre where they were beaten and tortured for three days.  Far worse, Thevan was ill-treated continually until he was finally released in 2011.

    April 30, 2013
    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.

    April 29, 2013

    Posted at 0001 GMT 30 April 2013

    The Sri Lankan government is intensifying its crackdown on critics through threats, harassment, imprisonment and violent attacks, Amnesty International said in a report released today.

    The document, Assault on Dissent, reveals how the government led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa is promoting an official attitude that equates criticism with “treason” in a bid to tighten its grip on power.

    Journalists, the judiciary, human rights activists and opposition politicians are among those who have been targeted in a disturbing pattern of government-sanctioned abuse, often involving the security forces or their proxies.

    “Violent repression of dissent and the consolidation of political power go hand in hand in Sri Lanka,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    “Over the past few years we have seen space for criticism decrease. There is a real climate of fear in Sri Lanka, with those brave enough to speak out against the government often having to suffer badly for it.”

    March 21, 2013

    A new UN resolution does a good job of highlighting past and ongoing human rights violations in Sri Lanka, but regrettably fails to establish an independent and international investigation into alleged crimes under international law, Amnesty International said.

    The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva this morning passed a resolution on the need to promote reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka following the country’s armed conflict, which ended in 2009.

    Yolanda Foster, Amnesty International’s Sri Lanka expert, said:

    “This is a positive development. UN Member States have sent a clear signal to the Sri Lankan government that crimes of the past cannot simply be ignored, but need to be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.

    “The text also crucially highlights the still very worrying human rights situation in Sri Lanka today, and calls for regular UN reporting on the implementation of the resolution, including of ongoing human rights violations.

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