Lankan government accused of embarking on process to silence critics

COLOMBO (The Island/ANN) - International Truth and Justice Project – Sri Lanka (ITJP) and Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS) accuses government of attempting to muzzle critics and human rights defenders.

Sri Lankan government is "unleashing a chilling process of repression targeting critics and human rights defenders," said a report by the International Truth and Justice Project – Sri Lanka (ITJP) and Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS).

The two groups documented 69 incidents of intimidation and threats both before and after the elections which have targetted journalists, human rights defenders, lawyers, plaintiffs, academics and opposition figures.

"In some cases the threats have been so serious the individuals have fled the country," they added.

"What we are seeing is the dismantling of any attempts to address accountability and a massive shrinking of the civic space in Sri Lanka with even more sophisticated and intrusive surveillance," said ITJP’s Executive Director, Yasmin Sooka.

Sooka says:"The international community has to ensure the increased security assistance it is giving Sri Lanka after the Easter Sunday bombings is not being misused now to crack down on human rights defenders and journalists". 

"Individuals previously accused of corruption or alleged to be involved in war crimes are now in office again - the ‘deep state" is out in the open, occupying positions of authority," said Bashana Abeywardene of JDS adding that it’s cast a pall of silence over once outspoken journalists, trades union activists and human rights activists.

The incidents have been documented with the help of activists in Sri Lanka who cannot be named for their own safety, says the report.

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