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Sri Lanka

CrisisWatch Sri Lanka

Unchanged Situation

Month dominated by political manoeuvring ahead of Nov presidential elections, while UN Human Rights Council passed resolution giving Sri Lanka two additional years to fulfil its commitments on reconciliation and accountability. Former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa continued campaign to be nominated as presidential candidate for Sri Lanka People’s Front, amid uncertainty over degree of support from his brother, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, possible bid for a second term by President Sirisena as nominee of Sri Lanka Freedom Party, and increased lobbying by leftist party Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna for constitutional amendment abolishing executive presidency. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Bachelet 8 March called on Human Rights Council to maintain Sri Lanka on its agenda, noting slow progress in govt’s commitments to transitional justice and addressing impunity, and arguing that “lack of accountability for past actions likely contributed” to anti-Muslim violence in March 2018 and to late 2018 constitutional crisis. Human Rights Council 21 March passed new resolution to “roll over” Sri Lanka’s commitments on reconciliation and accountability, giving it two more years to fulfil pledges it made in 2015. Even as Sri Lanka co-sponsored resolution, FM Tilak Marapana 20 March challenged aspects of High Commissioner’s report to council and rejected key aspects of 2015 resolution, including foreign judges in special court to investigate and try alleged war crimes. Reflecting deep divisions in govt following failed 2018 constitutional coup, Sirisena 27 March rejected resolution as “betrayal” of military and Sri Lankan people, claimed he was not informed and did not approve of its contents.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

24 Jun 2018
It is particularly damaging that the reasons the U.S. Government gave for leaving the Human Rights Council – for being hypocritical and biased, echo so closely criticisms that the previous Sri Lankan Government and many Lankan politicians in opposition and in the current Government have made about the Council’s engagement with and resolutions on Sri Lanka. The U.S. withdrawal will have lasting damage and will strengthen governments and politicians across the globe who prefer to be left to their own devices, even when this involves violating the fundamental rights of their own citizens. Sunday Observer

Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka
8 Mar 2018
There is good reason to believe [the Sinhala Buddhists attacks in Sri Lanka] are partly designed to provoke a Muslim response, which would then justify more violence against Muslims. Al Jazeera

Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka
6 Mar 2018
Many Sinhalese and Buddhists have [the sense] that Sri Lanka [is a] Sinhala and Buddhist island, and [that] other communities are here on the sufferance of the majority. The Guardian

Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka
18 Feb 2018
The [Sri Lankan] government will need to figure out how to come together. They need to go back to the drawing board and return to their fundamental principles and start to deliver. CNN

Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka
15 Feb 2018
[Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa] has a strong core constituency and a good set of issues, whereas the government has to pull together a range of minority constituents. The Economist

Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka
7 Nov 2017
2017 has seen a worrisome return of violence and hate speech in Sri Lanka. U.S. News

Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka

Latest Updates

Watch List 2018 – First Update

Crisis Group’s first update to our Watch List 2018 includes entries on Burundi’s dangerous referendum, militant Buddhists and anti-Muslim violence in Sri Lanka, the impact of the Venezuelan crisis on the region, and the situation in Yemen. This annual early-warning report identifies conflict situations in which prompt action by the European Union and its member states would generate stronger prospects for peace.

Op-Ed / Asia

Sri Lanka’s Transition to Nowhere

The bloom is off two years of hope that the rule of law can be restored for all and that a 60-year failure to grant Tamils a fair share of power, in the Sinhala majority island, can be rectified.
 

 

Originally published in The Diplomat Magazine

Op-Ed / Asia

Unfinished Business in Sri Lanka

Originally published in Inside Story

Commentary / Asia

Impunity and Justice: Why the UN Human Rights Council Must Stay Engaged in Sri Lanka

As the United Nations Human Rights Council meets in Geneva this month, it’s time to assess how far Sri Lanka has come since last year’s passage of a landmark resolution to promote reconciliation, accountability and human rights.

Op-Ed / Asia

Time to seize the moment in Sri Lanka

Originally published in Inside Story

Our People

Alan Keenan

Project Director, Sri Lanka
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