Sri Lanka | Freedom House

Freedom in the World

Freedom in the World 2017

Sri Lanka


Freedom Status: 
Partly Free

Freedom in the World Scores

(1=Most Free, 7=Least Free)

Quick Facts

Press Freedom Status: 
Not Free
Net Freedom Status: 
Partly Free

Ratings Change:

Sri Lanka’s political rights rating improved from 4 to 3 due to ongoing reforms to the constitution and electoral processes, and because the government has taken steps to combat corruption.


Mahinda Rajapaksa oversaw the abolition of term limits after he was reelected president in 2010, and suppressed criticism from dissenters while consolidating power. Rajapaksa suffered a surprise defeat in the 2015 elections, and since then Sri Lanka has experienced improvements in political and civil liberties under the new administration of President Maithripala Sirisena.

Key Developments: 
  • In June, Parliament passed a long-awaited Right to Information Act.
  • In August, Parliament approved a bill that established an Office of Missing Persons, marking a step forward in the transitional justice and reconciliation process.
Executive Summary: 

President Maithripala Sirisena’s administration continued working on electoral, constitutional, and other reforms, and sought out public input on these processes. The Right to Information Act, which had been introduced in 2015, was approved by the parliament in June, and the Information Ministry worked on preparations for its full implementation in 2017. In August, parliament approved legislation that established an Office of Missing Persons, which is tasked with setting up a database of missing persons, advocating for the missing persons and their families, and recommending redress. Separately, a draft constitution with new checks on executive power is expected to be released in 2017.

An opposition political grouping known as the Joint Opposition experienced some pressure during the year, with Sirisena at one point threatening to reveal “secrets” about its members. Separately, Sirisena accused an independent anticorruption commission of politicization, in remarks that drew widespread criticism as a departure from his government’s anticorruption efforts, which have included a number of high profile investigations.

Religious extremist groups continued to harass minorities and advocates of religious tolerance, albeit with less frequency than in previous years. 

Aggregate Score: 
Freedom Rating: 
Political Rights: 
Civil Liberties: 

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