GENEVA, Jan 22 (2024): UN human rights experts have condemned Sri Lanka’s heavy-handed anti-drug operation, “Yukthiya,” calling for its immediate suspension and urging a shift towards health and human rights-based policies.
“Drug users have human rights,” the experts declared, highlighting numerous disturbing practices under Yukthiya, including:
- Mass arrests: Thousands of alleged offenders, primarily from marginalized communities, have been arbitrarily detained.
- Forced rehabilitation: Hundreds are being held in compulsory military-run centers, with reports of torture and ill-treatment.
- Judicial irregularities: Concerns exist about unfair trials and the process of sending individuals to rehabilitation.
The experts emphasized that effective drug control requires harm reduction strategies respecting user autonomy and informed consent. They urged the closure of forced rehabilitation centers and their replacement with voluntary, evidence-based, community-based services.
Further demands included:
- Independent investigations: Thorough probes into allegations of torture, ill-treatment, and due process violations.
- Legislative review: Revision of drug laws to align with international human rights standards.
- Military withdrawal: Ending the involvement of armed forces in drug control and treatment activities.
This condemnation follows a 2023 letter expressing concerns about Sri Lanka’s drug war approach. The experts stand ready to assist the government in implementing rights-based solutions.
This news highlights the international community’s growing alarm over Sri Lanka’s drug war abuses. The experts’ demands urge the government to prioritize human rights and public health in its approach to drug control.