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Sri Lanka blames internal opposition for slow progress at Universal Periodic Review

The Sri Lankan government has blamed opponents who accuse them of inviting foreign interference for its slow progress on improving human rights.

“Unfortunately, each step taken to reconcile the nation and acknowledge the legacies of our difficult past is contested,” Sri Lanka’s Deputy Minister of National Policies and Economic affairs said at the UNited Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Speaking at Sri Lanka’s third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review, Minister Harsha de Silva said: “Our efforts to protect and promote human rights are often attacked by opponents as inviting foreign interference. Our efforts to ensure harmonious relations between the different ethno-religious communities, and our commitment to constitutional reform, are often attacked by opponents as attempts to create divisions.”

Reiterating the message of several high-level Sri Lankan politicians, including the President, that the country’s armed forces would not be targeted by accountability mechanisms, the minister said, “investigations into allegations pertaining to human rights and humanitarian law violations during the conflict are unfortunately misperceived by some in my country, as specifically targeting the security forces, which is completely erroneous.”

“As the President of Sri Lanka recently stressed, security forces will not be unfairly targeted or punished,” he said.

Promoting and protecting human rights “is not something that can be done overnight” the minister said.

Read the Minister’s full address at the 28th UPR session here.