The United States said that major human rights problems were reported in Sri Lanka during 2015, including harassment of civil society activists, journalists, and persons viewed as sympathizers of the banned terrorist group the LTTE as well as arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, rape, and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence committed by police and security forces.
According to the -2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-, the US stated, “Other serious human rights problems included severe prison overcrowding and lack of due process.”
Presenting the report US Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski said “In Sri Lanka, we’ll be encouraging reconciliation and justice in keeping with the joint resolution its government co-sponsored with us at the UN Human Rights Council.”
“Neglect of the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) remained a problem, as was physical and sexual abuse of women and children and trafficking in persons,” the report said adding that “discrimination against persons based on sexual orientation continued. Limits on workers’ rights and child labor also remained problems.”
It also said that widespread impunity continued for the crimes committed during the armed conflict and other crimes committed following the end of the conflict, particularly for cases of torture, sexual violence, corruption, and human rights abuses.
The government arrested and detained a number of military, police, and other officials implicated in old and new cases that included the killing of parliamentarians and the abduction and suspected killings of journalists and private citizens, the report said.
The report also said that unlike in the previous year, there were no substantiated reports of extrajudicial killings, although the use of force against civilians by government officials, while increasingly rare, remained a problem. The government arrested several members of the armed services and political class suspected in unsolved cases, some more than a decade old.
“The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, but such incidents occurred although at a decreased rate relative to 2014. Civil society groups and human rights activists reported incidents of persons arrested and detained on unsubstantiated charges.”
Commenting on the media freedom the US said that "Independent media were generally active and expressed a wide variety of views without restriction."
“Journalists at the provincial level complained of routine harassment by local officials, including pressure to avoid negative stories. They expressed a need for robust right-to-information legislation. Owners of many media institutions had ties to top political leaders, with concomitant influence over editorial decisions. Nevertheless, in general most outlets and reporters covered the news freely without overt restrictions.”
“Politicians sometimes used or threatened libel suits against journalists to intimidate them against publishing negative coverage,” the report said.
The US said that the government did not seek to censor the media for publishing content critical of government actions. Some in the media practiced self-censorship especially during the first quarter of the year as they adjusted to a freer public information environment under the Siresena government.
See the report on Sri Lanka