Core Group deeply concerned over developments in Sri Lanka
COLOMBO – The Core Group on Sri Lanka on Tuesday (14) expressed deep concerns about current human rights developments in the country, in particular increased limitations being put on civic space, and called for the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) to be granted the resources needed to implement resolution 46/1.
The Group, in a statement delivered on its behalf by Simon Manley, UK’s Ambassador to the UN and WTO in Geneva, also flagged its longstanding concerns about the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) despite Sri Lanka’s outreach to the international community and statements of intent regarding its reform, and urged the government to bring its counter-terrorism legislation in line with its international human rights obligations.
The Group, which comprises Canada, Germany, North Macedonia, Malawi, Montenegro and the UK, also called on the government to reconsider its intention to introduce a rehabilitation process under the PTA that lacks judicial oversight, saying, “In this context, we remain concerned about the ongoing detention of human rights lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah and the poet and teacher Ahnaf Jazeem under the PTA.”
Declaring, “We continue to stress the importance of a comprehensive reconciliation and accountability process,” the Group expressed disappointment that even the limited progress made on accountability on key emblematic cases has regressed, and highlighted recent developments on the case involving the disappearance of 11 youths in 2008-2009 as an issue of particular concern.
Noting 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, the Group called on the government to ensure the political independence of the institutions.
Expressing deep concerns about current human rights developments, in particular increased limitations being put on civic space including reports of surveillance and intimidation of civil society groups, intimidation of journalists and reprisals against those protesting peacefully, the Group stressed the importance of providing a safe and enabling environment for civil society actors.
The Group also reiterated its request made at the 47th session for independent and impartial investigations into deaths in police custody and called on Sri Lanka to cooperate fully with the High Commissioner, stating, they remain ready to support the government on the implementation of resolution 46/1.