Facebook icon
Twitter icon
e-mail icon

Tamil lawyer granted US International Women of Courage Award

Ranitha Gnanarajah, a Tamil lawyer who has campaigned years against Sri Lanka’s draconian Prevention of Terrorism act, is to be awarded the United States’ International Women of Courage award during a virtual ceremony on 8 March, hosted by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken.

Commenting on her accomplishments the US State Department described Gnanarajah as follows:

Ranitha Gnanarajah, a lawyer, continues to fight for and defend the rights of the marginalized and vulnerable communities in the country, despite threats and challenges by the state. Ranitha has dedicated her career to accountability and justice for victims of enforced disappearances and prisoners detained often for years without charge under Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act by providing free legal aid and related services. As an individual personally affected by the conflict and based on her extensive experience working with victims and their families, Ranitha has demonstrated tremendous passion and dedication to justice and accountability, especially for Sri Lanka’s most vulnerable populations.

The Prevention of Terrorism Act, which has been widely criticised as existed for over 42 years despite pledges from Sri Lanka that it would repeal the draconian legislation which has been linked to accounts of state torture. It has also been used disproportionately against Tamils.

Earlier this week, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee called on Washington to “reassert its leadership role on human rights and support calls for justice in Sri Lanka,” as the United Nations Human Rights Council continues to discuss a new resolution on accountability for mass atrocities.

Read the full US statement here.

We need your support

Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Tamil journalists are particularly at threat, with at least 41 media workers known to have been killed by the Sri Lankan state or its paramilitaries during and after the armed conflict.

Despite the risks, our team on the ground remain committed to providing detailed and accurate reporting of developments in the Tamil homeland, across the island and around the world, as well as providing expert analysis and insight from the Tamil point of view

We need your support in keeping our journalism going. Support our work today.