Damning Amnesty International report slams GoSL for muzzling dissent and whitewashing criminals
Amnesty International in its latest report raises concerns about the shrinking space for dissent in Sri Lanka and the lack of credible domestic mechanisms for redress only a year after the government came to power. It points out that the Covid- 19 pandemic exacerbated government controls and repression. The report titled Old Ghosts in New Garb claims that the trend which is emerging is similar to that which prevailed in the years following the end of the conflict.
‘The Sri Lankan government has launched a renewed crackdown on civil society organizations and human rights defenders, targeting voices critical of the government’, said the report. It mentions rampant assaults on the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, personal security, freedom from arbitrary detention, harassment and intimidation.
The organisation has called on the government to immediately stop targeting human rights defenders and political opponents, journalists and law enforcement officers investigating past abuses and to ensure a safe and enabling environment for civil society. ‘Without an urgent course correction and remedial action, Sri Lanka risks falling again into a damning spiral of repression and violence’, it warns.
The report, which covers the period for 2020, highlights that the intention of the Commission of Inquiry on political victimization which was appointed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa early last year was to whitewash criminals and label them instead as victims of political persecution. It points out how military leaders have been rewarded with promotions and positions of power despite their questionable human rights records.
The Amnesty International report comes when Sri Lanka is on the threshold of the UN Human Rights Council sessions which start on 22 February. The report urges the international community to use the sessions to hold Sri Lanka accountable for alleged crimes under international law to deter future violations.(SW)
For the full report:
Sri Lanka: Government suffocating dissent and obstructing justice for historic crimes says Amnesty report | Amnesty International