Unsafe at home, unsafe abroad: State obligations towards refugees and asylum-seekers in Sri Lanka

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Following the 21 April 2019 attacks in Sri Lanka, also known as the ‘Easter Sunday bombings’, targeting churches and hotels in Negombo, Colombo and Batticaloa, refugees and asylum seekers – primarily from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran – were displaced from Negombo (38 kilometres from the capital Colombo). Approximately 1,063 refugees and asylum seekers left their homes and in some cases were forced due to threats of violence by individuals and groups armed with knives and sticks, to relocate from their homes to two community centres and a police station close to their original homes.

This report reveals that the relocation/eviction/movement of over 1,000 people due to fear and violence by the community against them cannot be dismissed without appropriate investigation by the authorities in accordance with international human rights law. The treatment of refugees and asylum-seekers, and the impact on their safety, security and freedom of movement, infringed a number of human rights guaranteed to them by not only international human rights law, but also the domestic human rights legal framework.

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