JDS calls for tough international action against Sri Lanka government

In a report detailing continuing government crackdown on dissenters, Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS) has called upon UN member states to use universal jurisdiction and targeted sanctions against Sri Lanka’s political and military leaders accused of mass atrocity crimes.

The 11 page submission delivered to the UN rights chief on August 25 highlights several key incidents of human rights violations within just over a month since President Ranil Wickremasinghe took office following the sacking of Gotabaya Rajapaksa through mass protests.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet is expected to present a report on Sri Lanka's rights record to the UNHRC's 51st session in Geneva that will take place from 12 September to 7 October.

Austerity measures 

President Wickremasinghe has unleashed the military and police on anti-government activists at a time the government is in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to finalise a bailout package, including restructuring debt of about $29bn, amid the country’s worst financial crisis in more than 70 years.

"The president’s moves foreshadow the austerity measures that the IMF is expected to impose on the country and the political unrest they are likely to trigger among trade unions, youth, and those protesting mass atrocity crimes. Wickremesinghe wants to wipe out all dissent against his government in its formative stage, so that when things get worse the public will dare not protest," says JDS.

In its report, JDS warns that a mere change of government does neither alter the ethno-nationalist state structure nor address the embedded impunity enjoyed by an elite group of politicians and military officers.

"Developments in Sri Lanka in the past five months are only marginally helpful in fighting impunity, enforcing better accountability, the rule of law, human rights, and justice. This is because although Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his clan have been dislodged from power, the system that allowed them to hold office remains almost intact," JDS says in its submission to the UN.

"What is worse, his successor, Ranil Wickremasinghe, has embarked on a course of action, which suggests that he is intent on continuing down the same path as Rajapaksa including using some of the dark arts Rajapaksa is accused of – especially cracking down on dissent."

The submission to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and its recommendations, which has also been shared with member states of the UNHRC can be read in full below:

Submission to Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights | Ongoing Human Rights Crisis in Sri Lanka



Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  • JDS is the Sri Lankan partner organization of international media rights group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The launching of this website was made possible by the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), of which Reporters Without Borders is a beneficiary.