Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka
Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic multi-religious state that was wracked by armed conflict between the majority Sinhalese-dominated government and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam from 1983 to 2009, at a cost of some 100,000 lives. The war ended violently in May 2009 when the Sri Lankan military crushed the separatist forces and precipitated a humanitarian emergency in the Tamil-majority north. Post-war efforts to create a stable peace and foster reconciliation in the country have included demands for accountability for grave human rights abuses and war crimes committed during the conflict. In 2015 the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution on “Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka” led by Sri Lanka, but successive governments have failed to fully implement the commitments. Growing Sinhala Buddhist nationalism, the aftermath of the April 2019 “Easter bombings” that killed more than 250 people in churches and hotels, and restrictions the current government has placed on the civil liberties of ethnic minorities and its opponents have given rise to concerns of a growing human rights crisis. A February 2021 report by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights found “clear early warning signs of a deteriorating human rights situation and a significantly heightened risk of future violations.” A subsequent UNHRC resolution requesting review of counter-terrorism legislation and calling for investigation and prosecution of human rights and war crimes has been criticized by the government.
Witnesses will discuss the current state of efforts to ensure accountability and promote human rights and rule of law in Sri Lanka, and offer recommendations for Congress.
This hearing will be virtual. Pursuant to H. Res. 965, Members of Congress and witnesses will participate remotely via Cisco WebEx. Members of the public and the media may view the hearing by live webcast on the Commission website. The hearing will also be available for viewing on channel 52 of the House Digital Channel service. For any questions, please contact Kimberly Stanton (for Co-Chair McGovern) or Piero Tozzi (for Co-Chair Smith), or Katie Paulson (for Rep. Ross).
Member of Congress
Member of Congress
Member of Congress
- Rep. James P. McGovern, Co-Chair, TLHRC
- Rep. Christopher H. Smith, Co-Chair, TLHRC
- Rep. Deborah Ross, Member, TLHRC
- Ambika Satkunanathan, Open Society Fellow and former commissioner, Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka
- Sondra Anton, Student Attorney, International Human Rights Clinic, Harvard Law School
- Shreen Abdul Saroor, Co-Founder, Women's Action Network, and Ashoka Fellow
- Neil DeVotta, Ph.D., Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Wake Forest University
- Carolyn Nash, Asia Advocacy Director, Amnesty International
- John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch
Submitted for the Record
- Dr. Soma Ilangovan, Director, U.S. Tamil Action Group, Statement Submitted for the Record
- Neil DeVotta, Ph.D, "Can Sri Lanka Turn Around its Corrupted Democracy?" The Wire, December 6, 2021
- Sondra Anton and Tyler Giannini, "When War Criminals Run the Government: Not Too Late for the International Community to Vet Sri Lankan Officials," Just Security, March 16, 2021
- United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, "Religious Freedom Conditions in Sri Lanka," October 2021
- Amnesty International, "From Burning Houses to Burning Bodies: Anti-Muslim Violence, Discrimination and Harassment in Sri Lanka," October 2021
- Amnesty International, "Old Ghosts in New Garb: Sri Lanka’s Return to Fear," February 2021
- Mahinda Samarasinghe, Sri Lankan Ambassador to the U.S., Letter and Memorandum to Rep. James McGovern, February 8, 2022