Sri Lanka has denied claims made on surveillance by the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Clément N. Voule.
The Government says 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.
The Acting Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in Geneva Ms Dayani Mendis said that Sri Lanka believes 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.
Hence, the Government requests the Special Rapporteur to be mindful of that stark reality when making recommendations related to security sector reforms.
“With reference to reports of alleged surveillance and intimidation, we would like to reiterate our 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. The Government remains committed to protecting and promoting civil society space, and ensuring that complaints received on alleged intimidation are investigated and prosecuted,” Dayani Mendis said at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
She said that steps will be taken to address concerns related to alleged harassment of religious minorities and to safeguard persons of all faiths. In this respect, an amendment to the Penal Code is under consideration to prevent hate speech and incitement of hatred among communities through mainstream and social media.
She also said that Sri Lanka is committed to remaining engaged with the Special Rapporteur on peaceful assembly and of association as well as other Special Procedure Mandate Holders of the Council in an open and constructive manner, in line with Sri Lanka’s domestic policies and priorities. (Colombo Gazette)