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



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.

August 27, 2015 • Press Release

The Day of the Disappeared: Enforced disappearances continue unabated in every region of the world

The use of enforced disappearance by governments to silence its critics and instill fear into targeted groups continues unabated in every region of the world, said Amnesty International as the world marks the International Day of the Disappeared on August 30.

February 25, 2015 • Report

State of the World 2014/2015

This has been a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights and for those caught up in the suffering of war zones. Governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting civilians. And yet the world's politicians have miserably failed to protect those in greatest need. Amnesty International believes that this can and must finally change.

May 23, 2013 • Report

Annual Report: Sri Lanka 2013

Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Head of state and government Mahinda Rajapaksa Unlawful detentions, torture and enforced disappearances remained rife and went unpunished. Government officials and supporters harassed and threatened human rights defenders, journalists and members of the judiciary who spoke out about abuses of power or advocated human rights accountability. More than three …