COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) -- The United States expressed concern over intensifying pressure on Sri Lanka's civil society and human rights activists and urged the government to ensure fundamental freedoms.
The State Department said in a statement Friday it was especially concerned about last week's arrest of two prominent rights defenders, Ruki Fernando and the Rev. Praveen Mahesan, after they made inquiries about the arrest of another activist. Following international criticism, they were released two days later without charges but were banned from traveling and disclosing information about their case.
"While it is encouraging that Mr. Fernando and Father Mahesan have since been released, they continue to face harassment by security forces," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in the statement issued in Washington.
She said the U.S. government was aware of reports that additional human rights groups were being targeted for investigation by security forces.
Psaki called Sri Lanka's government's "punitive measures" against activists "disturbing."
The United States is sponsoring a third resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Council calling for an international investigation of alleged war crimes if Sri Lanka fails to conduct one of its own and to end post-war human rights violations and abuses.
Voting on the resolution is expected next week. Sri Lanka has resisted calls for the investigation into the final months of the quarter-century war that ended in 2009 with the defeat of the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels.
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