Sri Lanka pardons soldier imprisoned over massacre of Tamils

A Sri Lankan soldier who was sentenced to death over the massacre of eight Tamil civilians, including children, has received a presidential pardon and been released home.

Tamil doctor warns of ‘politicised’ response as Sri Lankan military ramps up coronavirus measures

As coronavirus cases escalate across the island, hospitals and clinics across the North-East are bracing themselves for any potential outbreak, with many concerned at Colombo’s militarised and ‘politicised’ strategy. Speaking on condition of anonymity to the Tamil Guardian, one local clinician warned that systemic racism within Sri Lankan state institutions is risking lives.

Coronavirus detention centres in North-East spark fears for local health systems

The Sri Lankan military has begun quarantining foreign arrivals in detention centres hundreds of miles away from Colombo and in the Tamil North-East, as part of moves to tackle the spread of the coronavirus despite public health concerns and Tamil opposition. In Vavuniya, the Sri Lankan army began quarantining arrivals from abroad by sending them to the Pampaimadu Army Camp.

US report on Sri Lanka highlights ‘significant human rights issues’

The US State Department’s 2019 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Sri Lanka highlighted a range of concerns this week, from unlawful killings and torture by government agents to the unjustified arrests of journalists and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons. Amongst the issues raised by the State Department was the harassment of Tamil journalists in the North-East, including of Tamil Guardian correspondents.

Tamil asylum seeker takes on US immigration policy at the Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court heard a landmark case brought by a Tamil asylum seeker this month, which could have wide-reaching implications for Washington’s fast-tracked immigration and deportation processes. Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam, a Tamil asylum seeker who reached the United States via a gruelling eight-month journey through South and Central America, was arrested just 25 yards north of the US-Mexican border and placed in expedited removal proceedings which deemed he could be deported to Sri Lanka. After years in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, his challenge of a particularly arbitrary US immigration policy has now reached the highest court in the federal judiciary.

‘Tensions among ethnic and religious communities persist’ says UN Special Rapporteur

“Tensions among ethnic and religious communities persist” the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief said in his report. “Significant gaps exist particularly in upholding accountability and access to justice as well as ensuring non-recurrence of human rights violations,” the report added. Ahmed Shaheed, the Special Rapporteur, conducted his country visit to Sri Lanka 15 August to 26 August 2019. In his report, the Rapporteur highlighted that despite the armed conflict ending over a decade ago, “reverberations of the ethnic conflict remain apparent in the political, social and...

UN human rights chief urges Council to ‘explore all possible avenues’ for accountability in Sri Lanka

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed her “regret” at the Sri Lankan government’s announcementof officially withdrawing co-sponsorship of a resolution and called on the Human Rights Council to “to remain alert to this situation in terms of prevention and to explore all possible avenues for advancing accountability”. In her oral update address to the Council in Geneva this morning, Michelle Bachelet said she was “not convinced the appointment of yet another Commission of Inquiry” would amount to any accountability for rights violations, as in Sri Lanka "domestic processes have...

UN report urges Sri Lanka to deal with impunity to avoid the 'recurrence of human rights violations'

The Sri Lankan government’s inability to “deal comprehensively with impunity and to reform institutions may cause the recurrence of human rights violations” the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in its report on Sri Lanka's efforts towards implementing Resolution 30/1, which called for accountability and transitional justice through a hybrid mechanism. The report raises concerns over the “signs indicating a possible reversal of past commitments by the Government which would setback the promotion of reconciliation, accountability and human rights,...

Divided island – Tamil and Sinhala response to US travel ban

Following the United States’ announcement that the head of Sri Lanka’s army was subject to a travel ban over his involvement in mass atrocities, there have been markedly contrasting responses from Sinhala and Tamil actors on the island and beyond. A statement released by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Shavendra Silva and his immediate family are now “are ineligible for entry into the United States… due to credible information of his involvement, through command responsibility, in gross violations of human rights”. Sri Lankan response The Sri Lankan government, opposition...

US bans Sri Lanka’s army chief from entry over war crimes

The US State Department has announced the head of Sri Lanka’s army Shavendra Silva has been barred from entering the USA “due to credible information of his involvement, through command responsibility, in gross violations of human rights”. A statement released by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Silva and his immediate family are now “are ineligible for entry into the United States”. “The allegations of gross human rights violations against Shavendra Silva, documented by the United Nations and other organizations, are serious and credible,” said Pompeo. “His designation underscores...