International human rights organisation Amnesty International said Sri Lanka saw “continued impunity for violations and abuses… little progress on disappearances and no accountability for other crimes,” in its 2019 report on rights in the Asia-Pacific region.
Biraj Patnaik, South Asia Director at Amnesty International said that in Sri Lanka, “the tragic April bombings, which devastated hundreds of lives, led to the state adopting a heavy-handed security response that trumped people’s human rights.”
“For the victims of Sri Lanka’s decades-long conflict, there was little progress on disappearances and no accountability for other crimes,” he added.
The report comments on how the current Sri Lankan regime was acting to “rollback” the limited gains made in recent years.
Amnesty International also referred to how the government had used emergency regulations to “impose undue restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and religious belief in the aftermath of bombings earlier in the year” – such as the banning of clothing that conceals the face, effectively prohibiting Muslim women from wearing the niqab veil.
Another major issue emphasised by the report was the “limited advances on transitional justice”. Despite the government’s numerous assurances that allegations of major human rights violations would be punished under international law, few have been tried at court.
“Several military officials named in a 2014 investigation conducted by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights were promoted to positions of power after the new government was sworn in at the end of the year,” the report added.
"Effectively addressing a legacy of serious human rights violations requires serious commitment to confront truth, justice and reparations, no matter who is responsible,” said Patnaik. “Choosing to ignore these practices risk creating an environment for further conflict, further human rights violations and abuse.”
Click here to see the full report from Amnesty International