Sri Lanka: End government crackdown on peaceful protestors

The International Commission of Jurists is part of a group of 13 organizations that have issued a joint statement condemning the Sri Lankan authorities’ violent crackdown and increasing reprisals against peaceful protesters in Sri Lanka. This includes arrests, intimidation and the brutal attack on the protest camp in Colombo on 22 July 2022. The Sri Lankan authorities must ensure that security forces do not use excessive force and will respect the rights of peaceful protesters at the Gotagogama’ site, which authorities have ordered to be vacated by 5:00 pm on 5 August 2022.

On 18 July, while still acting president, Ranil Wickremesinghe declared a state of emergency, granting sweeping powers of arrest and detention to the police and armed forces. Peaceful protesters and protest leaders are being criminalised, freedom of expression is arbitrarily restricted to forbid legitimate political expression, and the prosecution authorities are bringing excessive and disproportionate criminal charges for acts of civil disobedience in the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis.

Our organizations have documented attacks against protesters, media outlets, human rights defenders, and religious and civil society organizations following the swearing in of the new president and cabinet on 21 and 22 July, respectively. Our joint statement details these incidents.

As a State party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Sri Lanka has an obligation not merely to respect and protect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression, but also to actively facilitate and promote their exercise. Under international law, to be lawful, any restrictions on these rights must meet the principles of legality, legitimate aim, necessity and proportionality.

In light of Sri Lanka’s international human rights obligations, we urge the Sri Lankan authorities to, amongst other things outlined in the statement, end the clampdown on dissent, immediately stop reprisals against anti-government protesters and guarantee people’s right to free and peaceful expression of their grievances safely and without fear of arrest or violence.

Signatories to the statement:

  • Amnesty International
  • Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  • FIDH-International Federation for Human Rights
  • Franciscans International
  • Front Line Defenders
  • Human Rights Watch
  • International Commission of Jurists
  • International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)
  • International Service for Human Rights
  • Sri Lanka Campaign
  • The International Working Group on Sri Lanka
  • World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

Download the full statement below: 

[JOINT STATEMENT] End government crackdown on peaceful protestors (Sri Lanka)

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