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Shehan Malaka

HRD, Founder
Soul Mate, Freedom Hub and Radical Middle Path

Shehan Malaka is a human rights defender, youth activist and vocal campaigner seeking justice and accountability for the Easter Sunday bomb which killed nearly 269 persons and injured 500 more. Shehan lost some of his close friends and relatives in this tragic incident. Despite a large number of arrests, justice remains elusive to the victims of this crime. Shehan Malaka has called for effective and transparent investigations, and supported campaigns by the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka calling for the real perpetrators to be brought to justice. Shehan Malaka is the founder of the youth groups – Soul Mate, Freedom Hub and Radical Middle Path – focused on encouraging democratic values, political literacy, critical thinking and addressing cyber abuse among Sri Lankan youth.

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. The army has also imposed some restrictions on assembly in Tamil regions. Impunity for crimes against HRDs is a major concern, since the current government shows no real intention to hold security forces responsible for the crimes they committed against HRDs and journalists during the civil war and the Rajapaksa years. Press freedom remains fragile, as journalists still face difficulties covering certain topics and are subject to harassment and intimidation. The revival of the Press Council - widely employed under Rajapaksa to target independent voices - in July 2015 has also alarmed HRDs.