Sept 14, Geneva: The Core Group on Sri Lanka today while recognizing the challenges the island nation is facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, continued to express concern about current human rights developments in Sri Lanka and stressed the importance of a comprehensive reconciliation and accountability process.
“We recognise the challenges Sri Lanka is facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and express our condolences to the people of Sri Lanka for the many lives that have been lost,” the UK’s Ambassador to the UN and WTO in Geneva, Simon Manley, said delivering the statement at the ongoing UN Human Rights Session on behalf of the Sri Lanka Core Group (Canada, Germany, Malawi, Montenegro, North Macedonia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland).
“We continue to stress the importance of a comprehensive reconciliation and accountability process. We note Sri Lanka’s declared intent to promote reconciliation and to ensure the continuity of the work of the Office of Missing Persons and the Office for Reparations. We call on the Government to ensure the political independence of these institutions,” Manley said.
The Core Group expressed disappointment that even the limited progress made on accountability on key emblematic cases has regressed. Recent developments on the case involving the disappearance of 11 youths in 2008-2009 is of particular concern, it added.
The Core Group is also deeply concerned about current human rights developments.
“There have been increased limitations on civic space including reports of surveillance and intimidation of civil society groups, intimidation of journalists, and reprisals against those protesting peacefully. We stress the importance of providing a safe and enabling environment for civil society actors.”
The Core group further reiterated its request made at the last session for independent and impartial investigations into deaths in police custody.
“The Government of Sri Lanka’s outreach to the international community and statements of intent regarding reforming the Prevention of Terrorism Act are welcome, though our longstanding concerns about this legislation still remain. We urge the Government of Sri Lanka to bring its counter-terrorism legislation in line with its international human rights obligations.”
“We also remain concerned about the ongoing detention of human rights lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah and the poet and teacher Ahnaf Jazeem under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.”
The Core Group called on Sri Lanka to cooperate fully with the High Commissioner and will remain ready to support the Government on the implementation of resolution 46/1.