Time to Put the Spotlight on Sri Lanka

October 9, 2012

Human Rights Activist in Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan human rights activists demanding the release of all alleged political prisoners stage a protest in Colombo on July 10, 2012. (Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/GettyImages)

Sri Lanka’s human rights record doesn’t get much international attention these days. But that’s going to change on November 1 in Geneva, when the U.N. Human Rights Council examines Sri Lanka’s record as part of the Council’s “Universal Periodic Review” (UPR) procedure.

Sri Lanka has a lot to account for, especially its continuing use of security laws against peaceful, outspoken critics, including journalists. Hundreds are being detained with no charge or trial. Many detainees have been tortured while in custody, and some have even been killed. No one has been held accountable for these crimes; impunity reigns.

We have a chance on Nov. 1 to expose Sri Lanka’s shameful practices of arbitrary detention, but we need your help.

Please send an online letter to your Members of Congress. Ask them to urge the Administration to highlight Sri Lanka’s practices of unlawful detention during the Human Rights Council’s UPR session on Sri Lanka. The U.S. should make the following recommendations to the Sri Lankan government during this session:

  • Repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act and abolish the system of administrative detention.
  • Release all individuals arrested under emergency or anti-terrorism laws, unless they are charged with recognizably criminal offenses and remanded by an independent, regularly constituted court. Any trials must be held promptly and in regularly constituted courts with all internationally recognized safeguards provided.
  • Ensure that any arrest and/or detention is in strict compliance with Sri Lanka’s obligations under international human rights law, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (to which Sri Lanka is a party), and adheres to the 2006 decree of Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa by registering detainees and informing their families and the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission of the place of arrest.

Also, please send an online letter to the Sri Lankan government asking that they end their practice of unlawful detention without delay.

With your help, we can end arbitrary detention in Sri LankaPlease act today!