Sri Lanka-Overview

The conclusion of the long running civil conflict in 2009 and the subsequent defeat of former president Rajapaksa in the presidential elections in 2015 opened up new possibilities for the work of journalists and human rights defenders in Sri Lanka. Despite these improvements, conditions for activists in northern and eastern Sri Lanka are far from ideal due to the continued presence of security forces since the cessation of violent conflict. While recent changes have created a more positive atmosphere for civil society and the exercise of civic freedoms, credible reports of torture, rape and enforced disappearances (or ‘white vans’) persist, particularly in Tamil areas. The legacy of old legislation and restrictive practices of the previous administration, especially regarding freedom of assembly and expression, also continue present challenges for present-day civil society in Sri Lanka.