Human Rights Commission Upholds Freedom of Movement

Human Rights Commission Upholds Freedom of Movement

Human rights activist Ruki Fernando filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission (HRCSL) in Sri Lanka against the Navy for restricting his freedom of movement on March 5, 2021. He was prevented from traveling to Iranaitheevu island to attend a meeting and protest by islanders, write an article, and visit a church.

In a landmark decision, the HRCSL ruled that the Navy’s actions violated Fernando’s right to freedom of movement and recommended that the Navy refrain from imposing similar restrictions on Sri Lankan citizens entering Iranaitheevu without legal justification. Additionally, the Navy Commander is instructed to issue clear guidelines to officers stationed in the North Central Naval area.

While acknowledging the HRCSL’s ruling as a positive step, Fernando argues that it should have addressed a broader range of rights violations resulting from restricted movement, such as freedom of speech, assembly, and religion. He also believes the recommendations should encompass all public places in Sri Lanka, not just Iranaitheevu, and apply to all individuals, not just Sri Lankan citizens.

Fernando commends the HRCSL for its determination and recommendations but urges them to adopt a more comprehensive and forward-looking approach that prioritizes the rights and needs of victims. He believes stronger actions, including an apology from the Navy, reimbursement of travel expenses, and compensation for the rights violations, would deter future infringements, encourage victims to come forward, and ultimately strengthen trust in the HRCSL.

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