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‘Be mindful of stark reality’ Sri Lanka hits back at UN Special Rapporteur

Sri Lanka responded to a report from the United Nations Special Rapporteur this week, by stating he should “be mindful of that stark reality when making recommendations related to security sector reforms”.

UN Special Rapporteur Clément N. Voule had expressed repeated concern at how “rapidly” changes had taken place in Sri Lanka since presidential elections last year, citing ethnic discrimination, miltiarisation and intimidation of civil society in an address to the UN Human Rights Council.

However, Sri Lanka responded by claiming “the Security Forces and intelligence agencies are not engaged in monitoring any specific group of people in the country”. 

Colombo refused to acknowledge the increasing militarisation of the island, and instead said, “We believe for any country, compromising its national security interests amidst looming sophistication of strategies of radical and extreme elements world around, is bound to face regrettable consequences”.

"Hence, the GoSL requests the Special Rapporteur to be mindful of that stark reality when making recommendations related to security sector reforms,” said Sri Lanka’s statement to the Council.

The statement comes as Sri Lankan security forces stepped up their presence in the North-East, with increasing incidents of state violence and dozens of Tamils arrested in recent weeks.

The step up in militarisation comes as Sri Lanka’s prime minister and accused war criminal Mahinda Rajapaksa also hit out at Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), announcing a special inquiry to investigate organisations who he claims are “spreading slander against the government”. 

“Requirements relating to registration are intended to balance the Government’s commitment to safeguarding freedom of association, with legitimate national security interests," Sri Lanka told the Council, after the Special Rapporteur spoke of how human rights defenders faced intimidation and harassment by state security forces.

"With reference to reports of alleged surveillance and intimidation, we would like to reiterate our invitation to the parties concerned to make formal complaints to law enforcement authorities or to independent national institutions such as the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka or the National Police Commission, so that action can be taken to investigate the alleged incidents," Colombo claimed. "The Government remains committed to protecting and promoting civil society space, and ensuring that complaints received on alleged intimidation are investigated and prosecuted."

See the full text of Sri Lanka's statement here.

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