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Sri Lankan opposition warns of intelligence officers at polling stations as part of state surveillance

Sri Lanka’s opposition party, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya, has accused the government’s intelligence agencies of collecting data on civilians as part of a larger surveillance project, which will also see military intelligence officers in every polling station across the island at upcoming parliamentary elections.

Shiral Lakthilaka, a lawyer and nominee from the Samagi Jana Balavegaya who worked as an advisor for President Maithripala Sirisena, has been critical of the government’s “Big Data” project. Whilst admitting that this project was considered by previous administrations for several years and that the intelligence agencies were quite keen on this project, it seems that the Rajapaksa administration will implement new draconian surveillance.

Lakthilaka, however, noted that this was seriously considered and proposed by the leader of the UNP and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday bombings.

“The current administration which is full of military and intelligence people at the top will definitely do it,” Lakthilaka told Economy Next.

He further warned that at the upcoming Parliamentary General election, the government wants to post intelligence officers in every polling station.

The growing surveillance state in Sri Lanka has concerned civil society actors who are routinely threatened by Sri Lanka’s security forces, especially within the North-East, where many Tamil hum rights defenders continue to face harassment and intimidation.

“This will be a death-blow to democracy in this country,” Lakthilaka added.

Read more from Economy Next here.

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