UN Rapporteur on freedom of religion raises concerns on Sri Lanka

The UN Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief has raised concerns on Sri Lanka in a report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) currently meeting ion Geneva.

The report by Ahmed Shaheed is based on his country visit to Sri Lanka from 15 to 26 August 2019.

In the report, he says despite the positive developments since 2015, the tensions among ethnic and religious communities persist and significant gaps exist particularly in upholding accountability and access to justice as well as ensuring non-recurrence of human rights violations.

He said that during the November 2019 Presidential election, many were concerned by the open statement of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa during his election campaign that rejected the pledges of the past governments with the UN and that he would not honour the country’s commitments to the HRC on post-war accountability and reconciliation.

He said that Sri Lanka ought to look ahead without hanging to “old allegations” and he also questioned the credibility of “foreign investigators”.

Ahmed Shaheed says the President’s statement has left many feeling exasperated that the culture of impunity and repeated cycles of mass violence in Sri Lanka will unlikely be tackled. (Colombo Gazette)