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Incidents Highlight Abusive Prevention of Terrorism Act

As the Sri Lankan government was assuring foreign diplomats of its commitment to human rights, the country’s minister for prisons was on a drunken, armed rampage in two prisons, some 200 kilometers apart.   On Sunday, Lohan Ratwatte reportedly…
Prison guards at the main entrance of Welikada prison in Colombo, Sri Lanka, November 2019.
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Member States Should Disregard Government’s Baseless Claims

(Geneva) – The United Nations Human Rights Council should maintain its rigorous scrutiny of Sri Lanka’s worsening human rights situation and press for genuine improvements, Human Rights Watch said today. At the Council’s upcoming session, which…
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Campaign of Intimidation, Blocking Legal Remedies

As the world prepares to mark the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, justice is further away than ever in Sri Lanka. Despite calls for answers over many years, the government has prevented families of the disappeared from…
A group of women holding black-and-white photos of men
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Rights Groups Express Concern Over Sri Lankan Police Abuses

(London) – The Scottish government should provide details of a review of Police Scotland training for Sri Lankan police, Human Rights Watch, Freedom from Torture, the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice, and Pax Christi Scotland said in a letter…
Sri Lankan police officers patrol a Muslim neighborhood after the Easter Sunday bombings, Colombo, April 26, 2019.
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To Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Scotland

Dear Justice Secretary Brown, We are writing on behalf of four human rights organisations for clarity about the current status of Police Scotland’s longstanding arrangement to train the Sri Lankan police. The situation in Sri Lanka has deteriorated…
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Suspend International Assistance to Abusive Law Enforcement Agencies

(New York) – Sri Lanka’s police are increasingly killing and abusing people under cover of the Covid-19 pandemic measures and an anti-drug campaign, Human Rights Watch said today. Recent police abuses reported in the media include alleged…
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Release Hejaaz Hizbullah and Others Denied Due Process under Abusive Law

Joint Statement  July 28, 2021 (New York) – Human Rights Watch joined 10 other organizations on July 28, 2021 in issuing the following statement seeking the release of the lawyer and activist Hejaaz Hizbullah and others held under Sri Lanka’s…
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We are writing to you on behalf of Brandix to clarify our stance on the article published on Human Rights Watch titled ‘Sri Lanka: Protect Garment Workers’ Rights During Pandemic’. We would like the opportunity to provide clarity for the statements made…
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Governments Should Reject Costly, Harmful Policy for Refugees, Asylum Seekers

(Sydney) – Other governments should reject Australia’s abusive and costly offshore processing of refugees and asylum seekers, Human Rights Watch said today. July 19, 2021 is the eighth anniversary of the Australian government’s resumption of its…
Asylum seekers and human rights activists protest against the detention of refugees amid the Covid-19 crisis in Brisbane.
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Compromised Safety, Pay Cuts, Representatives Threatened

(New York) – The Sri Lankan government, factory owners, and the international clothes brands sourcing from Sri Lanka should protect the safety and employment rights of garment workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, Human Rights Watch said today. The…
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News

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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Resolution Calls for Measures to Address Mounting Abuses

The European Parliament today sent a powerful message to Sri Lanka’s government that its growing human rights violations will no longer be tolerated and may jeopardize bilateral and trade relations. The resolution draws attention to abuses under…
A Sri Lankan woman holds a portrait of a relative who went missing, during a protest in Colombo, Sri Lanka,  February 14, 2020.
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Discriminatory Measure Targets Marginalized Population

Muslims in Sri Lanka already faced a growing list of discriminatory government policies before the cabinet approved plans on April 27 to ban women’s face coverings. If approved by parliament, the measure will outlaw garments worn by some Muslim women…
A Sri Lankan Muslim woman wearing a burka walks in a street in Colombo, Sri Lanka
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Government Seeks to Absolve Allies for Abuses, Prosecute Officials Pursuing Justice

(New York) – Sri Lanka’s parliament should reject a resolution to exonerate officials implicated in human rights abuses and to prosecute police and prosecutors investigating them, Human Rights Watch said today. Adopting the resolution, brought before…
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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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Withdraw Expansion of Notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act

(New York) – Sri Lanka’s government should immediately withdraw an order that allows two-years of detention without trial for causing “religious, racial, or communal disharmony,” Human Rights Watch said today. The Prevention of Terrorism (De-…
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International Women’s Day Should Prompt Real Reforms

As 2020 drew to a close, protesters across South Asia took to the streets, calling on their governments to take widespread sexual violence against women and children seriously, and to implement real reforms. But rather than listening to experts and…
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When I visited Sri Lanka in 2017, I met with mothers of the missing holding a roadside vigil in the northern town of Vavuniya. They clung to worn photos of their sons and told me how their children were taken into custody when the military was…
Elaine Pearson meets with mothers protesting the enforced disappearance of their sons, Vavuniya, Sri Lanka, 2017.