Sri Lanka's new government has already taken important measures to improve free expression and other rights, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said releasing its World Report 2015 Thursday.
The new government, elected after the HRW World Report 2015 was finalized, has restored blocked news websites, eased media restrictions and ordered a fresh investigation into the 2009 killing of journalist Lasantha Wickrematunga, the New York-based rights watchdog said in a statement.
Furthermore, activists and journalists have reported a lifting of government surveillance and pressure. The government has also asked for a list of all detainees held under the abusive Prevention of Terrorism Act for review.
Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 released yesterday said the previous government last year stepped up pressure on human rights activists and journalists, particularly those urging justice for past war crimes.
In the 65-page report Human Rights Watch documented extensive surveillance in ethnic Tamil majority areas in the north, detention of activists, and shutting down of workshops organized in the south to train journalists from the north.
Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch said the Rajapaksa government's resettlement and reconstruction of affected communities in the post-conflict years has been seriously marred by oppression of the Tamil population.
"The new government has the responsibility to set Sri Lanka on the long road to ensure justice and rights for everyone, particularly minorities and critics of the government," Adams said.
The right organization said the new government, elected in January 2015, should order investigations into arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, and killings since the final military operations in 2009.
"The UN investigation is the first real hope for justice for victims of atrocities on both sides during Sri Lanka's long civil war," Adams said.
The HRW urged Sri Lanka's new government to cooperate with the UN investigation and act to end the previous "hostility to justice."