The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Tuesday said it is “closely monitoring” the ongoing developments that are taking place in Sri Lanka, where protests on the streets have broken out against the ruling dispensation following the island nation’s worst economic crisis since its independence from the British rule, in 1948.

During a press briefing Liz Throssell, the spokesperson of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet said, “We are closely following developments in Sri Lanka where in the past few days authorities announced a state of emergency and other restrictions in response to mass protests against the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.”

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Noting that the situation has worsened over the past two weeks, Throssell also criticised Sri Lankan authorities for what she described as “excessive and unwarranted” police action against peaceful protesters, as well measures such as declaration of state emergency, imposition of a 36-hour curfew and restricting access to social media.

Such measures, she said, are aimed at preventing/discouraging people from legitimately demonstrating their grievances through peaceful protests.

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“We will continue to closely watch developments. As noted by the High Commissioner in February, the drift towards militarisation and weakening of institutional checks and balances have affected the Sri Lankan State’s ability to effectively tackle the economic crisis. The High Commissioner has also previously voiced concern that the Government responds to criticism and dissent in ways that undermine civil space, and we reiterate these concerns today,” Throssell further remarked.

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Meanwhile, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has issued a notification revoking the emergency rule, which he clamped on April 2 after violent protests took place outside his residence the day before.

The Rajapaksa family is facing the heat; while Gotabaya, as President, is the head of the state, there were as many as four members of his family, including Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, in the outgoing cabinet, which resigned en masse last Sunday.

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The country’s opposition parties, too, have rejected the President’s offer to form a “unity government” to deal with the crisis.