Aragalaya lawyers tells UNHRC no hope for HR reforms under Wickremesinghe rule

September 13, 2022

Aragalaya activist, Attorney at Law Nuwan Bopage addressing the 51st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) said the government’s violent response to protests leaves no room for optimism about the prospects of meaningful human rights, democratic reforms and accountability under the administration of president Ranil Wickremesinghe. 

Bopage said many peaceful protestors including himself have been arrested since Wickremesinghe assumed office. He also revealed that the Convenor of the Inter-University Students Federation Wasantha Mudalige and student activists Galwewa Siridhamma Thero and Hashan Jeevantha have been arrested and detained under the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act. Bopage said the government has contradicted its own assurance on a de facto moratorium on the PTA and called on the government to repeal it as promised. 

Bopage also noted that families of victims of enforced disappearances have faced harassment and intimidation as they continue their continuous struggle demanding to know the fate of their loved ones. “In this context, it is imperative that the council enhances the scrutiny of the situation and advances the accountability for human rights violations, overall wartime atrocities, economic crimes as well as the Easter attacks by strengthening the existing measures and adopting new initiatives,” he said.