In 2020 three Task Forces were appointed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa as a response to COVID-19. One has extensive powers to direct, coordinate and monitor the delivery of continuous services for the sustenance of overall community life, another relates to Economic Revival and Poverty Eradication and one concerns Sri Lanka’s Education Affairs, was established. Two most recently created are the Presidential Task Force to build a Secure Country, Disciplined, Virtuous and Lawful Society (established by Gazette Extraordinary no. 2178/18) and the Presidential Task Force for Archaeological Heritage Management in the Eastern Province (established by Gazette Extraordinary no. 2178/17), both dated 2nd June 2020. All the Presidential Task Forces have a compliment of military personnel while the Presidential Task Force to build a Secure Country, Disciplined, Virtuous and Lawful Society is composed entirely of persons from the armed forces and police.
Under the presidential taskforce to create a to build a Secure Country, Disciplined, Virtuous and Lawful Societymilitary personals are tasks to clean the Colombo streets, as a result many beggars and street based sex workers and other informal workers have been sent to rehabilitation centers.
This discussion was conducted to increase understanding of the taskforce among the sex workers. Ambika Sathkunanathen, former chair of the Human Right Commission Sri Lanka spoke about how communities can resist these arbitrary laws that are brough in to please the morality of the masses. She also highlighted that sex workers can seek support from HRCSL in the even that their fundamental rights are violated.
Read the key dicussion points here.