Top Sri Lanka lawyer says fears for life after criticising govt

COLOMBO, July 16, 2014 (AFP) – The head of Sri Lanka’s bar association said on Wednesday he feared he might be killed after he described President Mahinda Rajapakse’s government as becoming more autocratic. “We observe that the post-war Sri Lankan polity has been in an acute and deepening crisis,” he said.

Another legal group, the Lawyers Collective, accused the government of a “sinister move” to intimidate Jayasuriya and send a signal to dissidents.

“We have witnessed a regular pattern of surveillance on civil society organisations, human rights defenders and individuals critical of the government,” the group said in a statement Wednesday.

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay last year accused Sri Lanka of becoming “increasingly authoritarian” under Rajapakse, who has extended his powers since first being elected in 2005. Senior lawyer Upul Jayasuriya had accused the government of moving towards a dictatorship after it banned all local and foreign NGOs from holding press conferences.
Jayasuriya said unidentified men on a motorcycle and in a taxi had started following him after his statement last week, prompting him to call police.

“I suspect a link between my issuing the statement and the