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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Sri Lanka castigated in US country report on human rights

The 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices issued by the US State Department includes serious violations of human rights in Sri Lanka.

 It states despite Lanka being a constitutional, multiparty republic President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and his family; two of the president’s brothers hold key executive branch posts as defense secretary and minister of economic development, while a third brother is the speaker of parliament, dominate the affairs of eh country. Independent observers generally characterized the presidential and parliamentary elections as problematic. Both elections were fraught with violations of the election law by all major parties and were influenced by the governing coalition’s massive use of state resources. There were instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently of civilian control.

The report states the government and its agents continued to be responsible for serious human rights problems. Security forces committed arbitrary and unlawful killings, although the number of extrajudicial killings declined. Disappearances continued to be a problem, although the total also declined. Many independent observers cited a continued climate of fear among minority populations, in large part based on past incidents. Security forces tortured and abused detainees; poor prison conditions remained a problem; and authorities arbitrarily arrested and detained citizens. Denial of fair public trial remained a problem; the judiciary was subject to executive influence; and the government infringed on citizens’ privacy rights.

There were instances when the government restricted freedom of speech and of the press, and there were incidents of restrictions on freedom of assembly and association. Authorities harassed journalists critical of the government. Infringement on freedom of movement was lower than in the previous year, and citizens were able to travel almost anywhere in the island; in practice police and military checkpoints were still a frequent sight in Colombo and elsewhere, and numerous High Security Zones (HSZs) and other areas remained off limits to citizens. Election law violations and government influence created doubts about the fairness of both the presidential and the parliamentary elections. Official corruption, with impunity, and lack of transparency were serious problems the report points out.

The report also points out that many political analysts believe that the arrest and imprisonment of former Army General Sarath Fonseka had been carried out on political reasons.


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