Colombo, Dec 18 (NIA) – Sri Lanka’s conditions for freedom of expression, religious freedom, civil society, and judicial independence under the new administration of President Maithripala Sirisena has seen an improvement, resulting in Sri Lanka being rated 55 in the latest Freedom in the World index.
Sri Lanka was amongst only four countries that made an upward trend in the Freedom in the World Index 2016.
The index said that Sri Lanka received an upward trend arrow, due to generally free and fair elections for president in January and parliament in August, and improved conditions for freedom of expression, religious freedom, civil society, and judicial independence under the new administration.
The report said that Maithripala Sirisena of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), who was sworn in as president in Jan 2015, ushered in a broad reversal of the country’s authoritarian drift under Mahinda Rajapaksa.
“Sirisena’s 2015 reforms included the curtailing of executive power, the reestablishment of independent commissions, and the introduction of freedom of information legislation,” the report said.
“The new government also signaled a willingness to investigate the issue of alleged war crimes committed in 2009 during the final phase of the military’s campaign against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE or Tamil Tigers) rebel group. In September 2015, the foreign minister promised at a UN Human Rights Council hearing to set up a truth, justice, and reconciliation commission to investigate atrocities. The pledge was made at the same session at which the council released a damning report containing details of abuses committed by both sides,” the index said.
The Index assessed conditions in 195 countries during the latest report.
According to the Index, United States, Bangladesh, Yemen, Maldives, Turkey were among 16 countries which fell back in the Freedom in the World 2016 index, while Burkina Faso, Myanmar, Nigeria and Sri Lanka recorded upward trends.
The United States received a downward trend arrow because of the cumulative impact of flaws in the electoral system, a disturbing increase in the role of private money in election campaigns and the legislative process, legislative gridlock, the failure of the Obama administration to fulfill promises of enhanced government openness, and fresh evidence of racial discrimination and other dysfunctions in the criminal justice system.