UK urges SL not to use extraordinary anti-Covid measures to roll back human rights

UK urges SL not to use extraordinary anti-Covid measures to roll back human rights

2 July 2020 11:01 pm

The United Kingdom said extraordinary measures to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic should not be used by Sri Lanka to roll back human rights.

"UK shares the concerns of Sri Lankan human rights organisations over the targeting and marginalisation of minority groups, the pardoning of Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake and promotion of others accused of serious violations during the conflict, and the militarisation of a wide range of civilian functions and public initiatives."

This was disclosed by UK International Ambassador for Human Rights, Rita French when she delivered a message at the UNHRC session on behalf of Canada, Germany, North Macedonia, Montenegro and the UK, the Core Group on Sri Lanka.

The statement also said, "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, it said.

At the regional level, Sri Lanka said it has contributed USD 5 million to the COVID-19 Emergency Fund of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation to assist pandemic related challenges in the region.

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.

Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva during its ongoing session, the Sri Lankan delegation welcomed the presentation by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, the Annual Report of her Office for 2019.

Sri Lanka also noted the oral update provided to the Council by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Tuesday, on COVID-19 related human rights implications in the world.