The report for 2011 released by Foreign Secretary William Hague on Monday noted that disappearances and abductions continued in 2011 with a sharp rise in the number of disappearances towards the end of the year.
In December, two political activists travelling in the North had disappeared. There was almost no progress in resolving past cases of disappearances, including that of cartoonist Prageeth Ekneligoda who went missing in 2010.
The report recalled that the Sri Lankan government’s own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) had complained about the lack of investigations and had pointed out that in some cases, the police had refused to register any complaints.
The British report pointed out that little or nothing had been done to reduce the military presence in the Northern Province even though the LLRC had said that extensive military presence was often making the place “unsafe” for women.
An International Crisis Group (ICG) report had also expressed concern over women’s security in the North and East.
Painting a grim picture of women’s empowerment in Sri Lanka, the British report said that the country had slipped from the 16th to 31st rank in the Global Gender Index of the World Economic Forum.
Rights Activists Endangered
As regards the safety of human rights activists, the Foreign Office report said the environment for rights defenders in Lanka was difficult throughout 2011.
On December 10, 2011 a group of 42 rights activists from South Sri Lanka were prevented from participating in a Human Rights Day rally in Jaffna.
On December 9, 2011 two Tamil rights activists, Lalith Kumar Weeraraj and Kugan Muruganandan, had dis- appeared while visiting Jaffna.