Transparency International condemns harassment of its chapter in Sri Lanka

Issued by Transparency International Secretariat

Transparency International, the global anti-corruption movement, condemns the continued harassment of its chapter in Sri Lanka, including a growing number of death threats to the staff, and demands the government investigate.

Transparency International Sri Lanka’s work is centred on fighting corruption in Sri Lanka. To this end it has monitored elections, trained local government officials on budget transparency and has run a series of workshops to train journalists how to uncover corruption in the both the public and private sectors.

In the past few months there has been an escalation in the number of threats the chapter has faced, although it has been under attack for several years. Family members of the staff have been threatened and people working for the chapter have had to be temporarily relocated. So far the security services have done little to help.

“The government should actively protect the space for civil society and condemn the continued attacks on Transparency International Sri Lanka. Its silence makes it complicit. We call on the authorities to both speak out against these actions and to investigate the threats,” said Elena Panfilova, vice-chair of Transparency International.

This year three journalist training workshops and two other events organised by the chapter have been disrupted with threats of violence, forcing some venues to cancel the events. Transparency International Sri Lanka staff has been singled out and threatened.

This comes at a time when the government is actively trying to close the space for civil society in Sri Lanka and is threatening to introduce restrictive regulations.

 “The role of civil society is to hold those in power to account and to do this it must be allowed to function free from intimidation. The anti-corruption work that Transparency International Sri Lanka undertakes strengthens the trust that citizens have in their leaders by calling for more transparent government and educating citizens how to fight corruption,” said Panfilova.

In October Transparency International’s membership passed a resolution calling on all governments to act now to safeguard the space for civil society in the fight against corruption and for basic rights to work free from fear, harassment and intimidation.

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