Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said [press release] Monday that no progress has been made in Sri Lanka regarding respect for basic rights and liberties in the four years since the end of the country's brutal 26-year civil war [JURIST backgrounder]. According to HRW, the government of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa [official website] has failed to investigate and prosecute alleged war crimes, has cracked down on media and human rights activists, and has continued to abuse suspected Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [CFR backgrounder] supporters, despite Rajapaska's promise to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile]. Since 2009, government officials have reportedly threatened members of the media, civil society and the political opposition, and publications have been subject to government censorship, or, in some cases, shut down. HRW Asia Director Brad Adams said:
The Rajapaksa government seems to be hoping that broad-based repression will dampen the exercise of fundamental freedoms. But Sri Lankan activists and journalists who showed incredible resilience during wartime to bring forth the truth, will undoubtedly find a way to do so when the country is at peace.HRW urged governments to press for an independent international investigation into wartime abuses, speak out against ongoing abuses and provide support for Sri Lankan civil society.
The Sri Lankan government has faced various allegations of human rights violations and war crimes by civil rights organizations and the UN since the end of its civil war in 2009. In March the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution [JURIST report] to promote reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka. In February Sri Lankan authorities were accused of using rape [JURIST report] as a method of interrogating members or supporters of the LTTE. Earlier that same month the UN criticized Sri Lanka for failing to investigate war crimes, and HRW pushed [JURIST reports] for an independent investigation of rights abuses.