Apr 08, New York: A rights monitor says the Sri Lankan government's ban on 16 pro-LTTE Tamil organizations and freeze on their assets threaten peaceful dissent.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch says 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.
The right monitor asked the government to provide evidence of the unlawful activity of specific groups and individuals or remove them from the list.
Sri Lanka on April 01 signed the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373, which sets out strategies to combat terrorism and to control terrorist financing.
With the signing of the Resolution 1373, the Sri Lankan government has banned the Tamil Tiger terrorist organization, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and 15 other Tamil diaspora groups that are alleged of having terror links and involved in reviving the terrorist movement in the country.
The HRW says the ban which allows the government to take legal action against anyone having links with the listed groups 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 of HRW.
"This broad-brush sanction could then be used to punish local Tamil activists and politicians with international ties."
"The government is putting all Tamil activists at risk by delegitimizing the major Tamil organizations abroad," Adams said.
The HRW said the Sri Lankan 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," the rights monitor said.