How to watch the killers in Sri Lanka (via the web)

The beginnings of something positive in Sri Lanka (maybe). Accountability and transparency for human rights abuses is vital if the country is to have any chance of being respected again as a viable democracy. Right now, it’s a tawdry police state that tortures and murders with impunity:

The Sunday Leader recently reported on a new, unique initiative by the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies (CHA) in Sri Lanka to gather information on human rights violations. Called Citizens Net, the news report notes that it is open to logging “issues regarding gender-based violence, the rights of children, the elderly and the disabled.”

However, there is no mention of this on the site itself, which already displays well over 1,500 human rights violations at the time of writing.

Conceptually, this is an unprecedented site in Sri Lanka, opening up a reporting platform for citizens to log their complaints over human rights violations. Unsurprisingly, this is bound to be a controversial idea and its execution rife with questions over how CHA will handle and verify incoming reports. Already, those like Bonaparte on the Sunday Leader site raise the obvious, knee-jerk concerns by those partial to government that a site such as this will be used for war crimes investigations. It is perhaps why the news report suggests a very specific set of human rights violations that will be logged.

ellingly, there is no privacy statement anywhere on the site, and given that logging an entry requires a citizen to put down her / his name, email address and contact number, it is unclear as to what extent CHA will treat this information as confidential, and whether for example it will turn over submission information upon a court order, or as often the case in Sri Lanka, the diktat of the Ministry of Defence. This is an inherent problem of the model of data collection undergirding this site.

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