The change of presidents of Sri Lanka in 2022 did not lead to any improvement in the country’s human rights record, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday (12) in its World Report 2023.During 2022, thousands of Sri Lankans took to the streets after years of misrule, impunity, and corruption undermined the rule of law and contributed to a severe economic crisis that threatened millions. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, long implicated in grave rights violations, stepped down in July. However, the new president, Ranil Wickremesinghe, cracked down on largely peaceful protests, imprisoned activists, and disregarded calls for justice for past violations.“President Ranil Wickremesinghe responded to calls for reform and accountability with repression,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“The foreign partners that Sri Lanka needs to help address its economic crisis should insist on fundamental human rights reforms and respect for the rule of law.”In the 712-page World Report 2023, its 33rd edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in close to 100 countries. In her introductory essay, acting Executive Director Tirana Hassan says that in a world in which power has shifted, it is no longer possible to rely on a small group of mostly Global North governments to defend human rights.
The world’s mobilization around Russia’s war in Ukraine reminds us of the extraordinary potential when governments realize their human rights obligations on a global scale. The responsibility is on individual countries, big and small, to apply a human rights framework to their policies, and then work together to protect and promote human rights.Sri Lanka’s economic crisis deepened when the country defaulted on