Sri Lanka: Attempt to suppress human rights advocacy and protection of democratic freedoms

NfR  Sri Lanka

Press release/ 23 March 2011

The attention of Networking for Rights is drawn to a media release by the National Peace Council (NPC)  which states that it is being investigated by the Criminal Investigation Department. NfR expresses  its serious concern over the way this investigation is being handled.

It is disconcerting that an Organization  which conducts its activities in protecting and promoting human rights in Sri Lanka in a non-partisan manner is being investigated by the CID, though no criminal charges seemed to have been laid against it. Furthermore, according to the Media Release, the CID seeks to investigate the Councils sources of funding, its partners and its activities. Although the right to association is guaranteed by constitution of Sri Lanka this fundamental right has come under relentless assault by various status apparatus in recent times.

NPC states that the CID investigation was preceded by  critical reports in both state and private media on the Council. It is noteworthy that Organisations and individuals against whom attacks or assaults have been carried out have been similarly targeted on previous occasions. As stated by the NPC, the Council’s affairs have been submitted to the NGO Secretariat under whose purview the Councils activities fall. Its website too carries all relevant information regarding its funders, annual reports and activities. As there seems to be no evidence or allegation of a criminal nature, if an investigation is required then it should be handled by a civil body.

Human rights NGOs in Sri lanka have become constant target of unjust attacks in state and  nationalist media over the past years and come under pressure to fellow the government political line with regards to human rights situation in the country.

Networking for Rights is concerned that a CID investigation with no apparent evidence of a criminal nature would further suppress the space for human rights advocacy and  protection of democratic freedoms in Sri Lanka. NFR calls on the government of Sri Lanka to halt the witch hunt of Non-governmental Organizations which make valuable contributions to the country, and, if any investigation is deemed necessary, that it be handed over to a civil administrative body.

Issued by Steering Committee, NfR Sri Lanka

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