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Virginia University students' ‘unfriendly’ visit in Sri Lanka

A group of students from the University of Virginia’s School of Law visited Sri Lanka as part of a Human Rights Study Project (HRSP).

Eight students spent their time interviewing many people, including judges, military and government officials, NGO’s and individuals within camps, to study different areas of human rights within Sri Lanka.

Here is a description of the group’s experience by the President of the HRSP, John Akin:

"The current government of Sri Lanka has a history and a reputation of being very unfriendly to NGOs and human rights organizations.

"The second day we were in the country, we were told the Ministry of Defense would like to speak with all of us, and they would be sending a car in the morning to come and get us.

"They brought us into the Ministry, and we met with a number of military officials before finally meeting the Chief of National Intelligence.

"They wanted to know what we were doing in the country, and after speaking with us told us that we could meet with anyone we wanted, but they wanted to make sure we met with the ‘right people.’

"We were very aware of the potential consequences for the people we were interviewing with after that day and much more careful with our actions and profile in the country.”