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UN human rights experts call for renewed UN scrutiny on SL

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UN human rights experts yesterday expressed their deep concern about the reversal of what they called important democratic gains achieved since 2015 and roll back on limited progress made on accountability, reconciliation in Sri Lanka since the Government withdrew its support from the resolution Human Rights Council resolution 30/1 in February 2020.

“In the spirit of cooperation, we, the mandate holders who visited Sri Lanka since 2015, find it timely and opportune to recall some key recommendations as the developments over the past year have had profound negative impact on human rights in Sri Lanka and have fundamentally altered the context in which these recommendations could be effectively implemented, issues also raised in the High Commissioner’s report on Sri Lanka” the experts said.

They claimed that since Sri Lanka issued standing invitation to the Special Procedures mandate holders in 2015, 10 special procedures mandates conducted country visits. The former Special Rapporteur on truth, justice, reparations, and non-recurrence conducted four additional technical visits. Through these country visits, special procedures have identified root causes, patterns and complexities relating to a history of conflict, human rights violations and abuses and impunity in Sri Lanka and made more than 400 recommendations to Sri Lanka on a range of human rights issues. All recommendations contained in their country visits’ reports to the Human Rights Council can be searched on the Universal Human Rights Index.

 

The vast majority of these recommendations made by the special procedures mandates to Sri Lanka are intrinsically linked to the 25 key undertakings/commitments set out in the Human Rights Council resolution 30/1, which was unanimously adopted by the Council in 2015, they said in a press release.

 

Given below are excerpts: “Therefore, we are of the view that there are eight areas in particular that should be in focus when the UN Human Rights Council reviews the implementation of the resolution 30/1 in March 2021: i) threats to independent institutions and the rule of law; ii) increasing militarization; iii) restrictions on freedoms of peaceful assembly, association and expression; iv) discrimination against vulnerable groups, incitement to hatred and violence against minorities; v) legal safeguards, conditions of detention and prohibition of torture; vi) enforced disappearances; vii) impunity and viii) lack of progress in the transitional justice process.

 

For each of these areas, the main recommendations made as well as the main concerns in the current context are detailed below. We call on the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations made in our country visits’ reports. We call on the Human Rights Council and the international community to keep the human rights situation in Sri Lanka under continuous scrutiny and to explore all possible options for advancing accountability in the country.

 

In order to do this, options available to the Human Rights Council and Member States include but need not be limited to the possibility to:

 

1. Request OHCHR to enhance its monitoring and analysis of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka;

 

2. Establish an impartial and independent international accountability mechanism which would seek to build upon the work conducted by different UN mechanisms by investigating, compiling, and analysing information collected from an international criminal law perspective;

3. Request the appointment of a Special procedures country mandate;

4. Member States and UN agencies in their engagement with Sri Lanka to specifically demand that Sri Lanka fulfils its human rights obligations, including with respect to the issues identified in this statement and the recommendations made by Special Rapporteurs during their visits conducted since 2015 and with respect to cooperating with Special Procedures in relation to country visits and communications.”



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?

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… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.

 

 

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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others

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The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.

 

 

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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area

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Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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