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Repeal Prevention of Terrorism Act to Meet International Commitments

(New York) – The Sri Lankan government’s pardon of 16 prisoners convicted under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), however welcome, does not address the urgent need to repeal the draconian law, Human Rights Watch said today. The European…
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's addresses parliament in Colombo, Sri Lanka, August 20, 2020.
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Concerns of Government Retaliation Against Rights Advocates

(New York) – The United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka is a victory for victims of abuses to help them obtain information, accountability, and justice, Human Rights Watch said today. The UN and member countries should emphasize…
In this April 6, 2015, file photo, Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil women sit holding placards with portraits of their missing relatives as they protest out side a railway station in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
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Diplomats at the United Nations Human Rights Council don’t expect someone allegedly associated with a death squad to be among their colleagues. Yet that is the situation confronting officials in Geneva since Sri Lanka’s new permanent…
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UN Human Rights Council Should Pursue Accountability

(Geneva) – Sri Lanka’s government is aggressively attacking efforts to hold officials to account for past grave abuses, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The 93-page report, “Open Wounds and Mounting Dangers: Blocking…
A older man in glasses clapping
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Presidential Pardon Shows Rajapaksa’s Indifference to Army Atrocities

(New York) – Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s pardon of a soldier convicted of massacring eight civilians, including children, shows the administration’s disregard for justice for the worst abuses, Human Rights Watch said today. The…
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, center, sings the national anthem during an event to mark the anniversary of country's independence from British colonial rule in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
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Rajapaksa Government Should Uphold Commitments to UN Rights Council

(New York) – Sri Lankan security forces and intelligence agencies have intensified surveillance and threats against families of victims of enforced disappearance and activists supporting them since Gotabaya Rajapaksa became president in…
A woman holds a picture of a missing relative at a protest calling for investigations into enforced disappearances, Colombo, Sri Lanka, February 14, 2020.
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Provide Justice for Past Crimes, Prevent Future Abuses

(New York) – The winner of Sri Lanka’s presidential election on November 16, 2019 will face enormous challenges to deliver justice for past crimes and prevent future abuses, Human Rights Watch said today. Since Sri Lanka’s civil war ended in 2009,…
Sri Lanka's elections chief Mahinda Deshapriya displays ballot boxes that will be used in the upcoming presidential election in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019. The voting is scheduled to be held on Nov. 16.
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Reinvigorate Commitment to Justice for Civil War Atrocities

(New York) – Sri Lankan authorities have failed to bring to justice those responsible for the execution-style killing of 17 aid workers 13 years ago, Human Right Watch said today. On August 4, 2006, alleged Sri Lankan security forces…
Candles are burned at the memorial for slain humanitarian workers from Action Contre La Faim in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, August 11, 2006.
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Without Progress on Justice, Abuses Persist

(New York) – Ten years since the end of Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war, the government has failed to provide justice for the conflict’s many victims, Human Rights Watch said today. The conflict ended on May 18, 2009, with the total defeat…
Women mourn at the graves of their relatives who died in 2009 during the last days of the war in Mullivaikkal, Sri Lanka, May 18, 2015.
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Failure to Address Past Abuses Underlies Crisis

(New York) – Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision on October 26, 2018, to appoint former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as prime minister has raised fears about a return to past abusive practices in the country, Human…
Mahinda Rajapaksa speaks at UN headquarters in New York, September 22, 2010.
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Create Consultative Process to End Military Occupation

 (New York) – The Sri Lankan government has yet to fully restore civilian ownership of land and property nearly a decade since the end of the civil war in 2009, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Progress, particularly since the…
 A Sri Lankan Tamil man holds a placard during a protest in Colombo on August 21, 2018, demanding the release of lands still occupied by the military.
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Just before and during the ongoing session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Sri Lankan authorities made several announcements to signify their commitment to pledges made in an October 2015 resolution on justice and…
Women conduct a silent protest to commemorate the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances in Colombo, August 30, 2016.
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Reports of Ill-Treatment Show Need for Transparency, Monitoring

(Paris) – Uzbek authorities should immediately and unconditionally release an Afghan citizen whose 13-year imprisonment and alleged torture in custody have only recently become known, the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, International…
A guard in a solitary confinement block at an unidentified prison in Uzbekistan. Prisoners in solitary confinement in Uzbekistan’s prisons experience cramped cells without bedding—some in total darkness, others with permanent bright lights
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Time-Bound Action Plan on UN Human Rights Council Pledges Crucial

(Geneva) – The Sri Lankan government should announce a time-bound plan to carry out its pledges to the United Nations Human Rights Council since October 2015, Human Rights Watch said today. At an interim update before the Council this week…
Sri Lankan Tamil women hold up photographs of their missing family members as they wait to hand over a petition to the U.N. head office in Colombo March 13, 2013.
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Failure to Meet Pledges on Accountability, Counterterrorism Reforms

(Geneva) – The Sri Lankan government has failed to fulfill its pledge to abolish the abusive Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. For decades, the PTA has been used to arbitrarily detain…
Sri Lankan police stand guard at a protest calling for the release of Tamil activists being held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act in Colombo, Sri Lanka, October 14, 2015.
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Draft Law Falls Far Short of Colombo’s Pledges to United Nations

(New York) – Sri Lanka’s latest counterterrorism bill falls far short of the government’s pledges to the United Nations Human Rights Council to end abusive detention without charge, Human Rights Watch said today. The Cabinet approved the…
Sri Lanka: Anti-Terror Bill Revives Concerns of Abuse PHOTO
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The draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) remains in force, and there have been several arrests under this law in the past year Civil society groups are once again able to speak out safely on issues of concern There has been no tangible…
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera speaks during a news conference on a UN report about Sri Lanka’s civil conflict, in Colombo on September 17, 2015.
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Speed Up Repeal of Prevention of Terrorism Act

(New York) – The Sri Lankan government should abide by National Human Rights Commission guidelines on arrest and detention while taking urgent steps to repeal the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), Human Rights Watch said today. Sri Lankan…
Special task force police officers stand guard outside a jail in Colombo on November 7, 2010.
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January 2015 saw a momentous change in Sri Lanka. After nearly 10 years of increasingly authoritarian rule, a new government promising change was voted into office. The new government immediately set about righting many of the wrongs of the previous…
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein meets with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Colombo on February 9, 2016.