Sri Lanka arrests police chief and former defence secretary for ‘crimes against humanity’

Sri Lankan police arrested the country’s police chief and its former defence minister on Tuesday, for alleged negligence over the Easter Sunday bomb attacks that killed over 250 people. The arrests of police chief Pujith Jayasundara and former defence secretary Hemasiri Fernando, comes after Sri Lanka’s Attorney General de Livera accused the two of committing a “grave crime against humanity” for failing to prevent the attacks. Both men were reportedly receiving medical treatment at state-run hospitals at the time of their arrests. "There is sufficient information to prove negligence of...

Protest in Jaffna after death of political prisoner

Tamils protested in Jaffna on Tuesday demanding the release of political prisoners, following the death of a detainee last month. Muthaiya Sahathevan died of illness after 14 years of detention. Despite high profile protests and campaigns across the North-East, and the involvement of Sri Lankan politicians - including the president - the situation of Tamil political prisoners remains unchanged, with the majority in detention without trial or charge. “The Prevention of Terror Act is killing Tamils,” protesters chanted as they called for the unconditional release of political prisoners. The...

President Sirisena rejects appeal by UN chief over death penalty

Sri Lankan President, Maithripala Sirisena, said he rejected an appeal by United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, to reconsider his restoration of the death penalty after 43 years. “I told the Secretary-General that I want to save my country from drugs,” Sirisena said in a meeting in Colombo. “He telephoned me last week shortly after I signed four death warrants. I told him please allow me to stamp put the drug menace,” Sirisena said. He also accused the European Union of interfering in Sri Lanka’s domestic affairs. “The EU told me that they will withdraw the GSP Plus (tariff...

Attacks on religious minorities continued says US State Department

Religious minorities in Sri Lanka continue to be attacked, said the US Department in its 2018 report on International Religious Freedom. According to the report, Buddhist nationalist groups, such as the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), continued to promote the supremacy of the ethnic Sinhalese Buddhist majority and vilify religious and ethnic minorities, especially via social media during the Kandy riots in March 2018. These social media campaigns targeting religious minorities fuelled hatred and incited violence. The report stated the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka documented 74...

Vulnerable Tamil women worse-off under emergency regulations

Vulnerable Tamil women have become worse-off under Sri Lanka’s emergency regulations, campaigners have said. Speaking at a conference on International Widows Day in Batticaloa, campaigners for female-headed households and families of disappeared said that surveillance and harassment by intelligence personnel have worsened since the Easter Sunday attacks. “These emergency regulations have emboldened intelligence personnel more than ever,” a campaigner said. “While they are supposed to be used to prevent further terrorist attacks like those that happened on Easter Sunday, instead they are being...

Disappeared Tamils' case adjourned due to Gotabhaya absence

The trial around the disappearance of two Tamil men has been adjourned after Sri Lanka’s former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa failed to attend court to give testimony. The trial of the habeas corpus petition of two Tamil men known as Lalith and Kugan continued at the Jaffna Magistrate’s Court on June 21. The youths were forcibly disappeared from Jaffna in December 2011 while themselves helping to organise a protest for families of disappeared persons. Gotabhaya’s lawyer said that the former defence secretary was unable to appear before the court as he was recovering from heart surgery...

Sri Lanka Defence Ministry to strengthen intelligence

Sri Lanka's Ministry of Defence is to strengthen its intelligence apparatus in a restructuring move that will give its leadership more "authoritative status" to tackle 'security threats' including "separatism". The secretary to the ministry explained in a statement that several steps were being taken following the state of emergency which was brought about by the Easter Sunday bombings. While the Sri Lankan government and officials have been fiercely criticised for failing to act on intelligence that the attacks would take place, several questions have also been raised about the links between...

Northern governor admits military damaging environment in Mullaitivu

The governor of the Northern province admitted that the Sri Lankan military was causing environmental damage by exploiting Mullaitivu ground water. The remarks came at a meeting of the district development committee last week when Governor Suren Raghavan was told about the Sri Lankan army extracting millions of litres of water daily from a tube well in Karaithuraipatru (Maritimepattu).

Families of disappeared continue protests across North-East

Families of the disappeared this week continued their protests across the North-East, demanding justice for their disappeared loved ones.

Over a hundred human rights organisations call on Sri Lanka to end its death penalty for drug offences

In an open letter, signed by over a hundred human rights organisations, the Harm Reducation International (HRI) has urged the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) and International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) to apply pressure on Sri Lankan Government to abolish its death penalty. The demands maintained listed are that Sri Lankan authorities halt all impeding executions relating to drug offences, commute all existing sentences and abolish the death penalty. These demands follow the planned execution of four people for drug offences which was sentenced during the “National Drug...

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