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HRCSL chair resigns days before parliamentary elections

Deepika Udagama, Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission in Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has put forward her resignation on Monday, two days before the parliamentary elections in Sri Lanka..

The HRCSL is a nominally independent commission (appointed by the Constitutional Council) that was created by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. The organisation of the Constitutional Council is expected to change following the parliamentary elections in two days time. The Rajapaksas have criticised the 19th amendment alleging that the bill was an infringement to people’s rights and that its purpose was to “take revenge from the Rajapaksas”. It is speculated that the are determined to modify the 19th Amendment, which had restricted their powers of presidency, should they win a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

While Deepika Udagama and HRCSL have been vocal in their criticism of the Sri Lankan government, such as with regards to the reintroduction of the death penalty for drug trafficking,the commission is also seen to fall short of being able to effectively investigate and hold the government to account for serious abuses or violations, especially those perpetrated against Tamils.

Udagama’s resignation will come into effect on September 1. Earlier this year Ambika Satkunanathan, the only Tamil member of the commission resigned to become a national list candidate for the TNA.

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