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'Religious disharmony' order 'threatens minorities' says HRW

Human Rights Watch called on the Sri Lankan government to immediately withdraw a recent order that "allows two-years of detention without trial for causing religious, racial, or communal disharmony," in a statement this week. 

The regulation which expands on the "draconian and abusive" Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) "will allow the government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to more easily target religious and racial minorities, in violation of their basic rights," the rights group stated. 

“The Sri Lankan government has added a new weapon to its arsenal of abusive laws, putting religious and racial minorities at greater risk of torture and prolonged detention without trial,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, HRW's South Asia director. 

“Instead of addressing the UN’s concerns by repealing the notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act, the Rajapaksa administration is embracing it with a vengeance,” she added. 

The rights group also highlighted the importance of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which is currently meeting in Geneva, to adopt a strong resolution which "will help to prevent future abuses and advance accountability for past atrocities." 

“Sri Lanka’s new regulations will only make matters worse for families of victims and other government critics already facing harassment, intimidation, and surveillance,” Ganguly said. “The UN Human Rights Council should send a message loud and clear that these abuses need to stop.”

Read HRW's full statement here



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