Sri Lanka post-war recovery hit by graft, violence: watchdog

December 15, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s recovery from its decades-long civil war has been marred by graft, violence and a culture of lawlessness, a global watchdog said Tuesday. Transparency International rapped the government — which crushed the Tamil Tiger separatist rebels in May — for a lack of democracy, accountability and transparency.

“The latter half of 2009 marks a period of hope and potential for Sri Lanka. Yet, winning the war seems to have been easier than winning the peace,” said the report by the body’s local branch.

“Nowhere is this more clear than in the case of the government’s record on human rights and media freedom.”

It said the authorities had cracked down on dissent in the final stages of the war, with journalists, diplomats and aid workers reprimanded or deported for making critical comments.

Transparency International said 34 journalists had been killed between 2004 and 2009, including Lasantha Wickrematunga, a prominent anti-establishment newspaper editor.

“Sri Lanka is at a crossroads,” the report said, urging the government to replace “military logic with public legitimacy” to improve relations between the Sinhalese and Tami