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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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Submission to the Committee on the Rights of the Child

Submission to the Committee on the Rights of the Child regarding Children’s Rights and Alternative Care June 30, 2021 Human Rights Watch welcomes the opportunity to provide input to the Committee on the Rights of the Child ahead of its upcoming Day…
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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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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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Submission to the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons

This submission is based on Human Rights Watch research on human rights issues impacting older women,[1] including domestic violence, abuse, and neglect in residential institutions for older people, abuses during armed conflict, and health disparities…
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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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Human Rights Watch statement - item 2 interactive dialogue on High Commissioner’s report on Sri Lanka

It is 11 years since tens of thousands of civilians were killed in the final months of Sri Lanka’s civil war. Both parties to the conflict committed war crimes and other abuses for which no one has been held to account. For nearly a decade this…
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Indian leaders have committed to supporting the rights of minority Tamils in Sri Lanka to “live with equity, equality, justice, peace and dignity”. In pledges to the United Nations, the Indian government has also vowed to uphold global human rights…
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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…
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Report Highlights Need for Strong Human Rights Council Resolution

(Geneva) – The United Nations Human Rights Council, at its upcoming session, should act on the recommendations of the UN high commissioner for human rights, Human Rights Watch said today. The council should adopt a new resolution to enhance scrutiny…
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Announced Domestic Inquiry Seeks to Deflect UN Human Rights Council

Sri Lanka’s grim record is under scrutiny at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, so the government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has announced yet another internal inquiry. Foreign governments should not be swayed by this disingenuous…
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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UN Shouldn’t Help Repressive Government Launder Image

(This text has been updated to include a UN response.) The United Nations Country Team in Sri Lanka recently held a special virtual event to commemorate the world body’s 75th birthday. Sadly, it was a slap in the face for many of the country’s…
Sri Lanka’s former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, waits to be sworn in as prime minister at Kelaniya Royal Buddhist temple in Colombo, Sri Lanka, August 9, 2020.
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20 Years On, UN Should Compensate Victims

Today, the United Nations human rights expert on hazardous waste called out the UN for consistently failing the victims of widespread lead poisoning in refugee camps it ran in Kosovo. The UN leadership should listen and take long-overdue action in…
Roma children play in the Cesmin Lug refugee camp in Mitrovica city, northern Kosovo. Cesmin Lug is one of several camps that the UN established in what was known to be a heavily contaminated area near a defunct lead mine. December 12, 2007.
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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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Weak Response from Country Core Group Ignores Victims’ Plight

During his presidential campaign and after his election, Gotabaya Rajapaksa left little doubt that Sri Lanka would not enforce its commitments on justice and accountability agreed to at the United Nations Human Rights Council. So the foreign minister’s…
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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.