The US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Alaina B. Teplitz, tweeted today saying it was disappointing to see that the Government and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa are backing away from ending the discriminatory cremation policy.
“People, including loved ones recently passed, deserve more respect for their rights from a democratic Government,” the Ambassador tweeted.
The Government had this week said it will not intervene in the issue over the cremation of Muslim coronavirus victims.
Cabinet co-spokesman Minister Udaya Gammanpila said a final decision on the matter will be taken by the Director General of Health Services Dr. Asela Gunawardena.
Responding to the recent statement made in Parliament by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa announcing that burials will be permitted, Minister Gammanpila said the Prime Minister had shared his personal view on the matter.
He said the President, Prime Minister and Cabinet do not have the powers to take a decision in this regard.
Minister Gammanpila said only the Director General of Health Services is vested with powers to take decisions pertaining to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Dr. Gunawardena will receive recommendations from the technical committee appointed to study the coronavirus, and based on the recommendations will issue Gazette notifications. These Gazettes on Covid-related matters will thereafter become laws,” he explained.
The Cabinet co-spokesman further said the existing laws pertaining to COVID-19 remain unchanged as of now.
Last week (10), Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa informed Parliament that the burial of COVID victims will be permitted.
However, the following day (11), State Minister for Primary Healthcare, Epidemics, and COVID Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle told Parliament the burial of the remains of COVID victims in Sri Lanka will be allowed only if the Expert Committee appointed by the Health Ministry approves it.
State Minister Fernandopulle said the Health Ministry’s Expert Committee is vested with the powers to take decisions on COVID-related matters and so the decision on burials will also be taken based on the recommendations of the Expert Committee. (Colombo Gazette)