Sri Lanka has denied allegations of keeping families of missing under surveillance.
The Defence Ministry vehemently denied accusations by Human Rights Watch (HRW), which claimed that families of enforced disappearance and activists supporting them are under the microscope of the Sri Lankan Security Forces and intelligence agencies.
HRW had claimed that Sri Lankan Security Forces and intelligence agencies have intensified surveillance and threats against families of victims of enforced disappearance and activists supporting them since Gotabaya Rajapaksa became the President in November 2019.
Defence Secretary Maj. Gen. Kamal Gunaratne denying the allegations said apart from operating routine security network, the Security Forces and intelligence agencies were not engaged in monitoring any specific group of people.
“They are not focusing any of those relatives of missing persons and we have not used any of the intelligence segments of the armed forces or the police to keep a tab on those families,” he said.
The Defence Secretary said the Security Forces and the Police were kept on high alert to ensure national security but not target any specific group of people in Sri Lanka.
According to HRW, activists working in six locations in the north and east with the relatives of the forcibly disappeared have told HRW that there has been a significant increase in Government surveillance and intimidation.
“Especially, we do not keep an eye on the relatives of missing persons or intimidate them,” he said.
Maj.Gen. Gunaratne said the allegations might be leveled against the country’s Security Forces to discredit the Government targeting the Geneva UN Human Rights sessions.
He said the entire intelligence network, which was functioned in isolation and was in disarray, was brought under a strong network following the directives of President Rajapaksa to face future security threats to ensure national security to prevent deadly incidents like Easter Sunday suicide attacks.
The Defence Secretary requested HRW, New York based rights organization, to verify the authenticity of those who claimed that the families of missing people and their supporters were intimidated by the Sri Lankan Security Forces and intelligence agencies. (Colombo Gazette)