In 2023 Sri Lanka was struggling to come out of the economic meltdown with aid from the IMF, which required many austerity measures that impacted severely much of the population. People had less to eat and child malnutrition was on the rise while parents found it difficult to send children to school due to economic pressures. The year saw the 75th anniversary of independence, 40 years after Black July and 200 years since the arrival of the Malaigaya Tamil community. Two proposed bills – the Anti-Terrorism Bill and the Online Safety Bill – raised many human rights concerns and fears about stifling freedom of expression. Sri Lanka faced the UN Human Rights Commission and reiterated its commitment to the reconciliation process, which was seen as activists as words without concrete action. Throughout the year, human rights organisations such as Amnesty International, the International Truth and Justice Project and Human Rights Watch produced reports highlighting the lack of accountability for ongoing violations and past abuses. In the North and East, families of the disappeared continued their protests demanding answers to the whereabouts of their relatives while police torture and repression continued unabated. Increasing child abuse incidents, the lack of LGBTIQ rights, environmental degradation, pressures on wildlife and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were also issues that featured during the year. Groundviews takes a look at 2023 in retrospect.

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