Sri Lanka has arrested tens of thousands in drug raids
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan authorities have arrested tens of thousands of people in a month-long crackdown on drugs and have vowed to continue despite criticism from the United Nations regarding possible human rights violations.
According to The Associated Press, since the operation began in December, heavily armed police and military personnel with sniffer dogs have made regular nighttime raids on homes. They have also conducted searches on buses, seizing narcotics and arresting suspects, including “drug users, local dealers and distributors, and people with records of drug-related arrests.”
Acting Police Chief Deshabandu Tennakoon told The Associated Press on Thursday that more than 40,000 people have been arrested and questioned during operations conducted jointly by the police and security forces, and 5,000 were ordered detained by the courts.
Sri Lanka has long been known as a hub for drug trafficking, but, according to the article, authorities have stepped up action against narcotics amid complaints that more schoolchildren are using drugs and that drug-related crimes are on the rise.
Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council has expressed that “while drug use presents a serious challenge to society, a heavy-handed law enforcement approach is not the solution.”
“Abuse of drugs and the factors that lead to it are first and foremost public health and social issues,” it continued, expressing concern over reports of unauthorised searches, arbitrary arrests, torture, and even strip searches in public during the operations.
But Public Security Minister Tiran Alles insisted that the searches will continue, saying the human rights body should identify specific instances of abuse.
“We will not stop this operation. We will go ahead, and we will do it the same way because we know that we are doing something good for the children of this country, for the women of this country, and that is why the general public is wholeheartedly with us in these operations,” Alles said.”