The Core Group on Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council called on the Sri Lankan government to follow due process in detentions and arrests and be compliant with international norms and universal rights.
The Core Group noting that lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah, who has now been detained for almost three months without charge or presentation before the court asked the government not to use measures to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to roll back human rights.
The UK’s International Ambassador for Human Rights, Rita French, delivering a statement at the 44th session of the UN human Rights Council today on behalf of the Core Group on Sri Lanka, namely Canada, Germany, North Macedonia, Montenegro and the UK, called on the government to ensure that the country’s democratic space remains open and accountable.
The Core Group reiterating its disappointment at Sri Lanka’s withdrawal from the UN resolution 30/1 called for an end to impunity for the violations and abuses of the past.
In February, the Government of Sri Lanka indicated that it no longer supported resolution 30/1, which Sri Lanka had co-sponsored in a landmark partnership with the international community to address the harmful legacies of war and build a sustainable peace in the country.
“We reiterate our profound disappointment at this development. We remain firmly committed to advancing the resolution’s goals of accountability, reconciliation, and inclusive peace in Sri Lanka,” the Core Group said.
“While the Government of Sri Lanka has stated its own commitment to advancing these principles through domestic processes, we stress that any accountability mechanism must have the confidence of those affected,” it added.
The Core group noted that since March, Sri Lanka has been battling COVID-19, and has kept case numbers significantly lower than the regional average.
However, as stated by the UNHRC High Commissioner, extraordinary measures to tackle the pandemic should not be used to roll back human rights, it said
“We share the concerns of Sri Lankan human rights organizations over the targeting and marginalization of minority groups, the pardoning of Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake and promotion of others accused of serious violations during the conflict, and the militarization of a wide range of civilian functions and public initiatives.”
“We call on Sri Lanka to ensure that the country’s democratic space remains open and accountable. We call for detentions and arrests to follow due process and be compliant with international norms and universal rights, for example in the case of lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah, who has now been detained for almost three months without charge or presentation before the court. We call for an end to impunity for the violations and abuses of the past,” the Core group said.