Sri Lanka


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Sri Lanka Human Rights

Human Rights Concerns

Sri Lanka's brutal 26-year civil war between the government forces and separatists from the Tamil minority ended with a government victory in May 2009. During the war, both sides committed gross human rights abuses, including war crimes, for which no one has been held accountable. Enforced disappearances and torture have continued to be reported since the war's end. Hundreds remain detained without charge or trial. Independent journalists and human rights defenders have been harassed and attacked. Draconian security laws inconsistent with international standards remain in place.

During 1983 – 2009, Sri Lanka was wracked by a civil war between the security forces (who are mostly from the majority Sinhalese community) and the armed Tamil opposition group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who were seeking an independent state for the Tamil minority in the north and east of the island. While human rights abuses were committed by both sides during the long decades of conflict, the final years of the war saw a heightened intensity of fighting, accompanied by soaring human rights abuses: hundreds of enforced disappearances, unlawful killings of aid workers, arbitrary arrests, torture and the use of child soldiers. Some of these abuses may constitute war crimes. On March 27, 2014, the U.N. Human Rights Council finally authorized an independent international investigation into these reported abuses. Amnesty International welcomed this long-awaited step and called for the investigation to be robust and adequately resourced.

At the end of the war, about 11,000 displaced people suspected of links to the LTTE were arbitrarily arrested and detained without charge or trial. While many of these detainees have since been released, the government continues to use draconian security legislation enacted during the war to arbitrarily detain peaceful critics and hold them without charge or trial. These detainees should be charged with legitimate criminal offences, tried and prosecuted in accordance with international standards, or else released.

In recent years, cases of torture and enforced disappearances have continued to be reported, with no one being held responsible. Journalists, activists and human rights defenders have been attacked. At least 14 media workers have been the victims of unlawful killings since the beginning of 2006; one has allegedly disappeared in the custody of the security forces, while others have been tortured and arbitrarily detained.

Sri Lanka Newsroom



April 30, 2019 • Press Release

Ban on face-veil risks stigmatizing Muslim women in Sri Lanka

Responding to Sri Lanka’s emergency regulations imposing a ban on clothing that conceals the face, Amnesty International’s Deputy South Asia Director, Dinushika Dissanayake, said: “At a time when many Muslims in Sri Lanka fear a backlash, imposing a ban that effectively targets women wearing a face veil for religious reasons risks stigmatizing them. They will be …

April 22, 2019 • Press Release

Sri Lanka: Attacks another grim reminder of the need to tackle hate

The shocking Sunday morning bombing attacks targeting churches and hotels in three cities in Sri Lanka resulting in more than 290 deaths and leaving more than 500 people injured, is yet another grim wake-up to the intolerance and hatred surging through societies across the world, Amnesty International said today. “Amnesty International stands in complete solidarity with …

January 25, 2019 • Report

Hope flickers as justice still proves elusive in Sri Lanka

In 2015, Sri Lanka co-sponsored Resolution 30/1 at the UN Human Rights Council to demonstrate the newly elected government’s commitment to break with impunity for a past marked by serious human rights violations. While the Resolution was welcomed both domestically and internationally, three years on, progress has been slow and political will, dimming. In 2017, the government was granted a two-year extension to implement the Resolution. A detailed report on Sri Lanka’s implementation of Resolution 30/1 will be submitted to the Human Rights Council, by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, during its 40th Session in March 2019. This report stands as Amnesty International’s evaluation of the commitments made by the Government of Sri Lanka in Resolution 30/1.

June 17, 2016 • Press Release

Shots fired amid attempt to illegally push Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers back out to sea in Indonesia

The Indonesian authorities in Aceh are endangering lives of a group of more than 40 Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers by firing warning shots and threatening to push them back out to sea in flagrant violation of international law, Amnesty International said today.

June 15, 2016 • Press Release

Indonesia must allow stranded Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers to disembark

The Indonesian central government should allow dozens of Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers, including a pregnant woman and nine children, who have reached the coast of Lhoknga, Aceh, to disembark and meet UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) officials, Amnesty International said today.

June 1, 2016 • Report

Written Statement to the Human Rights Council on Sri Lanka

This written statement to the 32nd session of the UN Human Rights Council concerns truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence to victims of human rights violations and other crimes under international in Sri Lanka.

February 22, 2016 • Press Release

Amnesty International’s Annual State of the World Report Slams Governments, Including the U.S., for Global Assault on Freedoms

On the launch of its 2015 State of the World report, Amnesty International USA urged President Obama to use his last year in office to bring U.S. laws and policies in line with international human rights standards.

February 18, 2016 • Press Release

Your rights in jeopardy, global assault on freedoms, warns Amnesty International

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

February 18, 2016 • Report

Amnesty International State of the World 2015-2016

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

October 1, 2015 • Press Release

UN war crimes resolution marks a turning point for victims in Sri Lanka

A crucial resolution adopted at the UN Human Rights Council today offers the victims of Sri Lanka’s armed conflict the prospect of finally getting the truth and justice they deserve, Amnesty International said.