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Human Rights Watch calls for “due process” and “proportionate" response in Sri Lanka

Human Rights Watch has called upon to follow “due process” ensuring that arrests are made according to international standards and that restrictions on the freedom of speech are done “for a legitimate reason” and are “proportionate”.

This follows the Easter Sunday bombings in which close to 300 were killed and approximate 500 injured. 

The Sri Lankan state has responded by announcing a state of emergency, which would come into force on April 23 allowing security officials to make arrests without charge, and blocking several social media platforms. 

Human Rights Watch states that those detained should not be held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, stating:

“The Prevention of Terrorism Act permits the authorities to detain suspects for months, and often years, without charge or trial, facilitating torture and other abuse”.

The blocking of social media platforms follows the 2018 anti-muslim attacks in which social media outlets such as Facebook were used to spread false rumours.

Human Rights Watch maintains in its reporting that:

“Sri Lankan authorities should ensure that any interference with the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas, is for a legitimate reason and is proportionate”.

Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, says in this statement:

“Our hearts go out to all those harmed by these horrific attacks, which only adds to the suffering long endured by so many in Sri Lanka”

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“These horrific attacks make it vital for the Sri Lankan authorities to ensure victims get the help they need, act to prevent further violence, and bring those responsible to justice according to human right standards”. 

Read their full statement here.