Mar 06, Colombo: The Sri Lankan authorities must respect human rights under the state of emergency that was declared today, Amnesty International has said.
Yesterday, a mob set homes, shops and a mosque belonging to the local Muslim community alight in the Digana area of Kandy, in central Sri Lanka. This was the second serious incident of violence against a Muslim community in the country over the past week, following a similar attack in the eastern coastal district of Ampara on 26 February.
"It is important that the authorities take action against mobs who have incited hatred and carried out acts of violence against religious minorities," Biraj Patnaik, Amnesty's South Asia Director, said:
"They have a duty to protect vulnerable groups and hold the perpetrators accountable. But a state of emergency must not become a pretext for further human rights abuses," he said.
"While it is positive that the government wishes to prevent further violence, any steps taken to address the problem, however, must meet Sri Lanka's obligations under international human rights law, including the absolute prohibition on torture, unfair trials and arbitrary detention."
Amnesty has also called on the Sri Lankan authorities to take action against those responsible for attacks on the country's Muslim minority.
Although several people have now been arrested for involvement in the recent attacks, there is still widespread impunity for previous incidents of violence against Muslim minority communities in the country.
Amnesty's Deputy South Asia Director Dinushika Dissanayake said the Sri Lankan authorities must put an end to the impunity enjoyed by groups that incite hatred and carry out acts of violence against religious minorities. "They have a duty to protect vulnerable groups and hold the perpetrators accountable."
"The failure to take action against these groups has only emboldened them further and plunged minorities into a deeper state of fear. This is not the first time such horrors have been visited upon the country's Muslim minority."
"The scenes of the past week recall the attacks in Aluthgama, four years ago, showing how little has been done since then," she added.