Speaking at the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council, Canada’s Foreign Minister, H.E. Mr Marc Garneau, expressed “deep concern” about the deteriorating human rights situation in Sri Lanka and emphasised the need to hold Sri Lanka accountable for crimes committed.
“Canada is deeply concerned at the deteriorating human rights situation in Sri Lanka, which include threats to human rights defenders and civil society organizations, suppression of memorialization, forced cremations of religious minorities and the deterioration of the rule of law” Garneau stated.
He further added that:
“The recent report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights highlights the need for this Council to ensure accountability for crimes committed in Sri Lanka. Canada will continue to support measures that will support accountability, reconciliation and peace.”
Garneau also spoke on the challenges posed by the pandemic stating:
“Sadly, the pandemic has just been used as a pretext by some governments to undermine the human rights they are entrusted to uphold. This is unacceptable. This Council has a responsibility to continue to closely monitor these situations and engage with people on the ground to have rights respected”.
Sri Lanka’s militarized response to the pandemic has been condemned by human rights activists with legal advisor for the International Commission of Jurists Asia & the Pacific Programme, Boram Jang, stating:
“Sri Lanka’s involvement of the military at every level, with limited parliamentary and civilian oversight, raises serious human rights and rule of law concerns".