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UN experts condemn Sri Lanka's 'extensive, prolonged and repeated' use of emergency laws to crackdown on protesters



United Nations (UN) human rights experts have condemned Sri Lanka's "extensive, prolonged and repeated use of state of emergency measures" to repress the voices of peaceful protesters. 

In a statement, the experts highlighted that Sri Lankan authorities have clamped down on activists and protesters in recent weeks in response to the ongoing political and social unrest on the island. 

“We have raised our concerns to the Government on a number of occasions over the misuse of emergency measures, but to no avail. We condemn the recent and continued abuse of such measures to infringe on the legitimate exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression,” the experts said.

“In the wake of an unprecedented economic crisis in which families sometimes have to choose between food and medicine, these repressive measures further close avenues for dialogue and maintain a political climate prone to an escalation of tensions,” the experts added.

Earlier this year, mass protests swept the South as demonstrators called for the resignation of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for his role in perpetuating the economic crisis. Last month, the protests came to a dramatic head as protesters swarmed the president's official residence, forcing Rajapaksa to flee the island. 

Following Rajapaksa's resignation, Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as President and began targeting anti-government protestors, who he accused of promoting fascism.  

The experts also expressed that "national security cannot be used as a pretext to shut down expressions of dissent" and encouraged the government to engage in an "open and genuine dialogue" with those on the island. 

Read the full statement here

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