‘Soap and solace scarce as Sri Lanka’s tea pickers toil on amid lockdown’

Sri Lanka’s tea plantation workers “with a history of exploitation face hazards including a lack of masks and overcrowded accommodation,” despite tough lockdown measures across the island, Yasmin Gunaratnam writes for The Guardian . “A caveat on the country’s lockdown order, issued on 20 March, read: ‘Paddy farming and plantation, including work on tea small holdings and fishing activities, are permitted in any district,’” she wrote. “The Ceylon Worker’s Red Flag Union say coronavirus public health measures mean little on estates, There are no facilities to wash hands with soap during a shift...

In response to COVID-19, we cannot give authoritarians a free hand

The coronavirus pandemic has instilled a global sense of panic as the death toll continues to climb.

The Slow March Towards Accountability for War Crimes

The current situation in Sri Lanka underlines why an international approach is often the only way of ensuring that perpetrators of war crimes are held accountable for their misconduct, writes Graham Newsome in I nternational Policy Digest.

COVID-19 - A Parent’s Perspective

The mother of a healthcare worker on the frontlines of Britain’s NHS writes about how it feels to be the parent of a key worker during the coronavirus pandemic.

‘Sri Lanka Uses Pandemic to Curtail Free Expression’ – HRW

Following the outbreak of coronavirus on the island, “Sri Lanka’s inspector general has ordered police to arrest those who ‘criticise’ officials involved in the coronavirus response, or share ‘fake’ or ‘malicious’ messages about the pandemic,” writes Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia Director at Human Rights Watch (HRW). “Blanket censorship and threats of arrest for speech not only violate Sri Lanka’s obligations under international human rights law, but are counter-productive,” she added. “Sri Lankans’ concerns that their rights will be respected are particularly crucial since President...

Freeing soldier convicted for massacre dashes hopes for accountability in Sri Lanka - The Hindu

The Hindu said there has been “justified outrage” after a Sri Lankan soldier on death row, who had been convicted over the murder of Tamil civilians, was pardoned by Sri Lanka’s president. “It hardly needs emphasis that the exercise of the power of pardon is an act of compassion, and not a tool for political or electoral messaging,” said The Hindu.

Presidential pardon emphasises the state's privilege and denial of justice - Ambika Satkunanathan

Lawyer, human rights advocate and former Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, Ambika Satkunanathan, questioned the basis for the presidential pardon of Sunil Rathnayake and the legitimacy of the process, and used the case to underline the challenges Tamil families’ face in holding perpetrators accountable and obtain justice.

A military mindset: Sri Lanka’s response to the coronavirus pandemic

By calling on a military accused of egregious rights abuses to lead a public health operation, the Sri Lankan government risks “exacerbating existing ethnic divides, endangering human rights and civil liberties even further, and furthering the violent militarization of the island,” wrote Tamil Guardian's editor-in-chief Thusiyan Nandakumar in the Polis Project this week.

‘Tamil women fighting for land 10 years after war ended’ - Al Jazeera

Tamil women “have been protesting for the past three years, demanding army returns their land confiscated during the civil war,” Al Jazeera reports. Chandraleela Jasinthan and her neighbours were forced out of their homes during the last days of the civil war. 10 years later and the army is still occupying their land. “For more than three years, Jasinthan and dozens of other women in Keppapilavu have held one of the longest protests in Sri Lanka’s history at the entrance to an army camp they say was built on their ancestral land.” Keppapilavu protesters denouncing the occupation of their land...

‘Civil libertarians and economists quake at prospect of Rajapaksa landslide’ - The Economist

The prospect of the Rajapaksa clan capturing a two-thirds majority in the upcoming Sri Lanka parliamentary elections has left many on the island fearing what the future may hold, reports The Economist this week. “They could roll back constitutional changes brought in by the previous government that trimmed the president’s powers,” it said this week. “They could also, fear some among the 30% of the island’s 22m people who are not part of the Sinhalese Buddhist majority, scrap efforts to reconcile the country’s different ethnicities and religions after the murderous civil war of 1983-2009...