UN Human Rights Council 47
Core Group statement on Sri Lanka
by UK Mission to UN, Geneva, Switzerland, June 22, 2021
The Human Rights Council takes place in Geneva.
This statement is on behalf of Canada, Germany, North Macedonia, Malawi, Montenegro and the UK, the Core Group on Sri Lanka.
Council resolution 46/1 called upon the Sri Lankan Government to address the harmful legacies of war and to protect human rights, including for those from religious minorities. We regret the lack of progress on these issues, with a number of further concerning developments.
The Sri Lankan Government has attempted to dismiss a number of emblematic cases and to initiate criminal proceedings against individuals pursuing some of these cases. This counters the Council’s call for prompt, thorough and impartial investigations. We call for former CID director Shani Abeysekera’s safety to be ensured.
We are deeply concerned about the ongoing use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the recent intention to introduce a rehabilitation process lacking adequate judicial oversight. Human rights lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah, and poet and teacher Ahnaf Jazeem, remain detained without trial and further arrests under this Act have continued, including among minority communities and the political opposition.
We remain concerned about the restrictions on memorialization . We join the Bar Association of Sri Lanka in requesting independent and impartial investigations into recent deaths in police custody
We are concerned over appointments to the Office on Missing Persons and reiterate the importance of ensuring independent and credible institutions to achieve justice.
We encourage Sri Lanka to cooperate with the Council and OHCHR in relation to resolution 46/1 and stand ready to support this.
Item 2 – Update on human rights
In Sri Lanka, I am concerned by further Government measures perceived as targeting Muslims, and by the harassment of Tamils, including in the context of commemoration events for those who died at the end of the war. I am concerned that recent appointments to the Office of Missing Persons and Office for Reparations, and steps to discourage investigations into past crimes, are further undermining victims’ trust. Recent counter-terrorism regulations – which include the listing and/or prohibition of more than 300 Tamil and Muslim groups and individuals for alleged support of terrorism – will also not advance reconciliation. Regulations now permit the arbitrary administrative detention of people for up to two years, without trial for the purposes of de-radicalisation. I also note a continuing series of deaths in police custody and in the context of police encounters with alleged criminal gangs. A thorough, prompt and independent investigation should be conducted. We will continue to engage with the Government, and I will update the Council further at the September session, including on progress in implementing the new accountability mandate.