Written by Zulfick Farzan
01 Oct, 2020 | 6:54 pm
Colombo (News 1st); The Sri Lankan Government responded to a report produced by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Thursday (30).
The report notes the alleged surveillance of Sri Lankan civil society organizations, human rights defenders, and others in Sri Lanka and in Geneva.
The report also notes in December 2019, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights addressed patterns of intimidation and reprisals to the Government in writing.
“OHCHR received continued allegations of surveillance of civil society organizations, human rights defenders and families of victims of violations, including repeated visits by police and intelligence services, questioning organizations about, inter alia, their staff, and activities related to the UN,” is said.
In response, The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) with regard to alleged “intimidating visits”, “surveillance”, complaints of harassment” and “reprisals” referred to in the Report, made an invitation to the parties concerned to make formal complaints to law enforcement authorities or to independent national institutions such as the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka or the National Police Commission, so that action can be taken to investigate the alleged incidents.
Dayani Mendis, the Acting Permanent SL Representative to the UN said the Government has already publicly refuted these allegations and is committed to protecting and promoting freedom of expression and civil society space, and ensure that complaints received on alleged attacks against journalists, human rights defenders and civil society are investigated and prosecuted.
It is also reiterated that, apart from operating routine security networks in the interest of national security, particularly after the devastating Easter Sunday terrorist attacks, the Security Forces and intelligence agencies are not engaged in monitoring any specific group of people in the country.
“We believe that, for any country compromising its national security interests amidst looming sophistication of strategies of radical and extreme elements world around, is bound to face regrettable consequences,” she said.
The statement went on to note the Government of Sri Lanka requested all parties to be mindful of that ground reality in this context.
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