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Human rights violations committed by Sri Lanka remained unaddressed says latest Amnesty International world report

Sri Lanka has made "no progress" in addressing the human rights violations committed in the armed conflict Amnesty International said in its latest annual world report.

The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, highlighted that Sri Lankan authorities failed to hold perpetrators of human rights abuses accountable in domestic courts and that "no notable progress" had been made on emblematic cases either. Given "Sri Lanka's failures to provide redress to victims of crimes under international law and grave human rights abuses", the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted resolution 51/L1 on Sri Lanka, which will “extend and reinforce the capacity of the Office of the High Commissioner to collect, consolidate, analyse and preserve” evidence that may be used in future war crimes trials.

In their report, Amnesty International also noted that Tamil families of the disappeared don't have any confidence in domestic mechanisms such as the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) which have failed to provide any answers. The families have been engaged in continuous roadside protests demanding to know the fate of their loved ones, who were forcibly disappeared at the hands of the Sri Lankan forces. Instead of addressing the families demands, the state's forces have repeatedly subjected them to intense surveillance and harassment and have been "pressured to accept financial compensation and death certificates." 

The report further highlights the ongoing use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), a draconian law, which has been used disproportinately to detain Tamils and Muslim. Despite repeated pledges to repeal and replace the legislation, Sri Lanka has continued to use it.

Last year, protests erupted across the island following routine power cuts and a lack of fuel and food due to the island's economic crisis, leading to the resignation of Gotabaya and Mahinda Rajapaksa. The state responded to the protests with excessive force in an attempt to quash the mass protests. 

"There were multiple instances of excessive and unnecessary force being used against people queuing for fuel," the report said. 

The rights group also noted that human rights defenders, trade unionists and students were charged with participating in "unlawful assemblies".

Amnesty International's country report on Sri Lanka noted that by the end of the 2022, the government did not support a Private Member's Bill which is seeking to amend the Penal Code provisions that criminalise same-sex conduct. 

In a press release, Amnesty International expressed that the international community's responses to Sri Lanka's economic crisis and its crackdown on dissenting voices were "inadequate". The organisation went on to say that "the failure of global and regional institution - hamstrung by the self-interest of their members - to respond adequately to global conflicts, climate change and global energy and food crises has disrupted an already weak multilateral system." 

Read Amnesty International's country report on Sri Lanka here

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