Sri Lanka tells UN, intelligence agencies not monitoring specific group of people

The Government has insisted that the security forces and intelligence agencies are not engaged in monitoring any specific group of people in the country.

With regard to alleged “intimidating visits”, “surveillance”, complaints of harassment” and “reprisals” referred to in the Report, the GoSL wishes to make 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.

The Government of Sri Lanka made the observations with regard to the reference contained in the Annual Report of the Secretary-General on “Cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights”, presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Ms Dayani Mendis, the Acting Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in Geneva said that the Government has already publicly refuted the allegations related to Sri Lanka mentioned in the Annual Report of the Secretary-General, 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. Hence, the GoSL requests all parties to be mindful of that ground reality in this context,” she said.

UN Secretary General António Guterres had yesterday (Wednesday) raised concerns on Sri Lanka, in a report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.

Guterres notes in the report that allegations were raised with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) that several participants at the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council were questioned by authorities before and after travelling to Geneva, and several organizations reported incidents of surveillance during the Human Rights Council session and its side events in March 2020.

The report also notes that in December 2019, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights addressed patterns of intimidation and reprisals to the Government in writing. (Colombo Gazette)