DEEPAK Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights, on Thursday issued the following statement concerning restrictions on civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Sri Lanka:
“Canada is deeply concerned by reports of efforts to restrict legitimate activities of civil society and non-governmental organizations in Sri Lanka. We urge the Sri Lankan authorities to respect the right to freedoms of expression, assembly and association, and the right to take part in public affairs.
“Instructing civil society organizations to cease media engagement and activities, while persistently harassing and intimidating NGO members and activists, is contrary to democratic principles. Civil society plays a vital role in supporting the democratic process and must be permitted to operate free from undue interference by authorities. An empowered civil society is a crucial component of democratic governance and development.
“We continue to monitor the situation closely.”