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SL lacks progress in protecting human rights: UN Core Group

By Aazam Ameen

The United Nations (UN) Core Group on Sri Lanka today (22) expressed its regrets in terms of the lack of Sri Lanka’s progress with regard to UN Council resolution 46/1 which called upon the Sri Lankan Government to address the harmful legacies of war and to protect human rights, including for those from religious minorities.

Further, the statement from the Core Group also expressed regret upon consideration of a number of 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,” the Core Group stated 

The Core Group’s concerns associated with the ongoing use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the recent intention to introduce a rehabilitation process lacking ‘adequate judicial oversight’ were also highlighted.

“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,” it stressed.

Additionally, the statement asserted that the Core Group joins the Bar Association of Sri Lanka in requesting independent and impartial investigations into recent deaths in police custody, while remaining concerned about the restrictions on memorialization.

It also reiterated the importance of ensuring independent and credible institutions to achieve justice, which was in line with the Core Group’s additional concerns over appointments to the Office on Missing Persons.

“We encourage Sri Lanka to cooperate with the Council and OHCHR in relation to resolution 46/1 and stand ready to support this,” the statement concluded.

The UN Core Group on Sri Lanka comprises Canada, Germany, North Macedonia, Malawi, Montenegro and the United Kingdom.