Sri Lanka human rights improved under Sirisena: UK

Sri Lanka human rights improved under Sirisena: UK

July 16, 2015   10:44 pm

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The human rights situation in Sri Lanka has “improved” since Maithripala Sirisena took over presidency from Mahinda Rajapaksa, a UK government report has said. 

The Foreign Office’s human rights report mid-2015 said Sri Lanka took a number of steps to address human rights and democracy concerns, including setting up new institutions and undertaking legal reforms. 

“Freedom of expression improved, with exiled journalists invited to return to the country and a number of banned websites unblocked. 

“The democratic space has opened up with travel bans on foreign nationals visiting the North lifted, and the NGO Secretariat moved from the Ministry of Defence to the Ministry of Policy Planning and Economic Affairs,” the report said. 

It said local contacts in the north and east noted a significant reduction in surveillance by security forces with increased space for civil society activism. 

According to the report, “the human rights situation in Sri Lanka improved during the first half of 2015, although some concerns remain.” 

The report said the conduct of the Lankan security forces and of LTTE during the final stages of the conflict remained on domestic and international agendas. 

It cited several measures by the new government for its assessment of an improved situation such as “the new government pledged to cooperate with the international community and the UN.” 

The report said the unofficial ban on singing national anthem in Tamil has been lifted and people held on terrorism charges released. The violence against religious minorities have decreased. 

It, however, said concerns remain over torture and extra-judicial killings. 

The welcomed the handing over civilian lands taken over for military purposes in the north and the appointment of civilian governors to both former war affected regions. 

British Prime Minister David Cameron in 2013 during his visit to Sri Lanka had criticised the “appalling” and “chilling” crimes allegedly committed by the Sri Lankan government in the war against the LTTE. 

He had also called on Rajapaksa to set up an independent inquiry into alleged war crimes - or face a UN probe.

Source: PTI

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