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Kanapathipillai Kumanan

HRD, Photojournalist

Kanapathipillai Kumanan is a Tamil journalist and human rights defender based in Mullaitivu, Sri Lanka. He is a photo journalist and an activist covering violations against Tamil civilians by security forces in the heavily militarised North and East Sri Lanka. Following the end of the armed conflict in May 2009, Kanapathipillai Kumanan has played a key role in covering issues including enforced disappearances, military land acquisition and environmental crimes. He also supports the campaigns of survivor defender communities for truth, justice and redress.

The situation for human Rights Defenders has significantly improved since Maithripala Sirisena came to power in January 2015, with improved conditions for freedom of expression, civil society and judicial independence. The Sirisena administration has ushered in a broad reversal of the country’s authoritarian drift under Mahinda Rajapaksa, but human rights defenders fighting against corruption, enforced disappearances or defending environmental rights remain at great risk.

Despite the end of the armed conflict with the Tamil Tigers in 2009, strict security laws are in force and the situation for HRDs working on enforced disappearances, torture and land rights remains critical. HRDs seeking accountability for violations committed by both parties to the conflict face serious risks, including death threats, smear campaigns, judicial harassment, torture, enforced disappearance and killing.