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Facing increasing calls to ban UN peacekeepers, Sri Lanka applauds female participation

Sri Lanka's Combat Convoy Company rolls through the North-East

Following a damning report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and increasing calls for a ban on deploying Sri Lanka troops for UN peacekeeping missions, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN, Mohan Peiris, has applauded its twelve women serving in South Sudan.

Last month, the UN human rights chief noted that the United Nations" publicly announced a decision to suspend all Sri Lanka’s Army peacekeeping deployments, except where they would expose United Nations operations to serious operational risk". She went on to call on member states to "keep under review Sri Lanka’s contributions to UN peacekeeping operations and screening systems for Sri Lanka personnel".

The International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) has called for the suspension of all Sri Lankan peacekeepers following the release of the UN human rights commissioners report. The report highlighted hat the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, which is responsible for the vetting of Sri Lankan troops, has been "politicised and its independence undermined by the appointment of a former Government minister as its chairperson" the ITJP stated in a press release. 

Following the appointment of war criminal Shavendra Silva as Sri Lanka's Army Commander in 2019, the UN suspended Sri Lankan troops from peacekeeping except where operations could be endangered. Despite widespread criticism of Silva's appointment, Sri Lankan troops were seen saluting Silva before being deployed to South Sudan in November 2020. 

The Sri Lankan Army has been accused of human rights violations in Sri Lanka and in Haiti. During a peacekeeping mission in 2007, over 100 Sri Lankan peacekeepers were identified as being a part of a child sex ring. Sri Lankan troops were accused of exchanging food and money for sex with girls and boys as young as 12. While most of the accused were repatriated, none have been criminally prosecuted. 

Read more here: UN peacekeepers in Haiti ‘fathered hundreds of babies’ with young girls with violence and coercion

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