Asset freeze threatens peaceful dissent: HRW

8 April 2014 04:05 am - 20     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The Sri Lankan government’s decision to label 16 overseas Tamil organizations as financers of terrorism is so broad that it appears aimed at restricting peaceful activism by the country’s Tamil minority, Human Rights Watch said on Monday. The government should provide evidence of the unlawful activity of specific groups and individuals or remove them from the list.

On April 4, 2014, External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris made public an order signed on March 20, on the advice of the defense secretary, freezing the assets and financial resources of entities ranging from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which was militarily defeated in 2009, to nonviolent Tamil organizations around the world.

Chief Military spokesman Brig. Ruwan Wanigasuriya reportedly said that under the order, legal action would be taken against anyone having links with the listed groups. This would place local activists and alleged group members visiting the country at risk of being detained and held without charge under Sri Lanka’s abusive Prevention of Terrorism Act.

“The Sri Lankan government is using vague counterterrorism regulations to tie the major diaspora Tamil groups to the ruthless but defunct LTTE,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “This broad-brush sanction could then be used to punish local Tamil activists and politicians with international ties.”

Sri Lanka’s United Nations Regulation No. 1 of 2012 empowers the government to designate individuals, groups or entities believed to “commit or attempt to commit or participate in or facilitate the commission of, terrorist acts” and freeze their financial assets and economic resources. The government’s order provides no factual basis for its actions. Most of the groups listed in the order are lawfully registered entities in the various countries in which they are based. The asset freeze also covers 424 individuals.

The government should address its legitimate concerns about foreign terrorist financing primarily through legal cooperation with foreign governments. It should promptly produce the factual basis for listing, and ensure organizations and individuals are able to contest their designations before independent and impartial courts.

United Nations Resolution No. 1 is derived from UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001), passed in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, and requires countries to freeze assets and entities of those “who commit or attempt to commit terrorist acts or participate in or facilitate the commission of terrorist acts.” Human Rights Watch has extensively reported on how Resolution 1373 has provided governments broad leeway to create vague and overbroad definitions of terrorist activity and to curtail basic rights.

In 2009, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that Resolution 1373, by serving as a vehicle for “numerous” countries to enact provisions that derogate from international human rights treaties, has had “a very serious negative impact on human rights.”

In 2010, the then-UN special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, Martin Scheinin, said in his final report to the UN General Assembly that the counterterrorism regime created by the Security Council “continues to pose risks to the protection of a number of international human rights standards.”

Government statements on the asset freezes did not allay concerns of future rights abuses. The chief of national intelligence, Maj. Gen. Kapila Hendawitharana said that those having dealings with the listed persons and organizations could continue to do so as long as they do not violate Sri Lanka’s constitution or collect money for terrorism, but did not specify further exactly what actions would be prohibited. Hendawitharana also left open the possibility that the government might issue an outright ban on the persons and organizations listed, and said that more could be added.

“The government is putting all Tamil activists at risk by delegitimizing the major Tamil organizations abroad,” Adams said. “Putting organizations engaged in peaceful political activity on a terrorist list is a modern version of McCarthyism.” (Source: HRW)
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  Comments - 20

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  • ram Tuesday, 08 April 2014 05:20 AM

    who cares we have alternative also we this will happen after SL get band from UNHCR.

    kamma Tuesday, 08 April 2014 05:47 AM

    Just wondering if there was any peaceful activism by the country’s Tamil minority in the past..!

    dickey bird Tuesday, 08 April 2014 05:56 AM

    Navi pillay & the UN are not coming to SL to enforce US resolutions after seeing the celebration by a cross section of masses in the country after the 20/20 World Cup victory....

    Cameron & the the UK have learnt a lesson or two from the celebrations & longing for a England vistory.

    Western world & the UNHRC bamboozled by the celebrations.

    nicky karunarathna Tuesday, 08 April 2014 06:21 AM

    There was no peaceful dissent with AK47, landmines and suicide bombing mate. Your better tell those harangue to idiots not to us. Your organization promote all type terrorism of LTTE or Tamil brutes for their dollars. So now fly a kite please. .And we jolly well knows where you come from.

    sharan Tuesday, 08 April 2014 06:30 AM

    HRW, US,UK, EU Pease stop harassing other nations.
    SRI LANKA has suffered enough in the hands of ltte terrorists, The ltte front outfits are there to disrupt the peach achieved in SRI LANKA by promoting terrorism.
    USA- The so called 'keepers of peace' who are actually 'war mongers' should know that their slip is showing, it is like pot calling the kettle black. If HRW is actually genuine, it should call on US to stop drone attacks and creating mayhem in other countries like IRAQ, AFGANISTAN , UKRAINE etc
    UK, EU are the lapdogs of the US, saying yes to everything that their master wants...
    HRW we are not fools we know your game,
    PLEASE STOP HELPING ltte & its front organizations and let us, LANKANS live in peace....You and your allies (US,UK , EU) has caused enough destruction in the world.....

    lkboy Tuesday, 08 April 2014 06:32 AM

    HRW = Terrorist Watch?

    Jacoobie Wednesday, 09 April 2014 02:45 AM

    [quote name="Asanka"]HRW too should be banned... via DM Android App[/quote]
    Now that is the true srilankan spirit !!

    Ryan Tuesday, 08 April 2014 07:05 AM

    HRW should also be included in the same list.

    Asanka Tuesday, 08 April 2014 01:10 PM

    HRW too should be banned... via DM Android App

    Niran Tuesday, 08 April 2014 08:15 AM

    [quote name="ram"]who cares we have alternative also we this will happen after SL get band from UNHCR.[/quote]

    Who cares.... We will anyway do business with Russia and China and rest of Asia. Oil will be purchased from Iran in exchange for our Tea.

    ram Tuesday, 08 April 2014 10:58 AM

    USA UK and all Europe country should band Lanka Politian’s who is having citation ship in their country after the will tell you.

    Nims Tuesday, 08 April 2014 08:25 AM

    Now it is clearly understood to everyone to whom these so called HRW are standing for

    SL Tuesday, 08 April 2014 04:19 AM

    HR watch and the LTTE supporting western countries are the one who is poking in to this issue with very biased eyes and utterly skeptical attitude .
    this is what harming reconciliation and keeping Sri Lankan communities apart
    Till your irresponsible behaviors exist ,HR Watch is a threat to Sri Lankan reconciliation. The response from the government will not be less than this type

    hypocrite Tuesday, 08 April 2014 10:02 AM

    Our learned friend!!!!! Why are you targeting smaller nations only. How about USA and it's cronies that have banned and frozen the assets of many Mid Eastern and Iranian organisations. Api Kaludha????? via DM iPad app

    CW Tuesday, 08 April 2014 11:06 AM

    Human Right Watch or Human Right Witch?

    dan Tuesday, 08 April 2014 11:10 AM

    That seems the exact thing happening to you.

    R.Dias Tuesday, 08 April 2014 04:39 AM

    The Government has forgotten that the UN resolution 1373 of 2001 was US sponsored....
    '' ...God makes people mad before destroying them..."

    Saman Tuesday, 08 April 2014 04:39 AM

    LTTE is defunct only in Sri Lanka yet active in Europe, US, Canada and Australia hiding under the banners of various charity organisations acting as human rights protectors. LTTE proxies are actively lobbying foreign governments and NGOs using billions of their hoarded cash to fulfil dead Velu's utopian dream! This is how yesterday's terrorists have now become modern day peace worriers today! Ane Kale Wane Wase!

    rajiv Tuesday, 08 April 2014 04:42 AM

    wonder why the HRW is all of a sudden worried about this decision

    Ruwan Tuesday, 08 April 2014 04:47 AM

    Asset freeze of terrorists groups impacts on the survival of NGO's like HRW, that is the real reason.


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