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Sri Lanka remains 2nd highest in the world for enforced disappearances - UN

File photograph: Tamil families of the disappeared protest in the North-East

An annual report by the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances reveals that Sri Lanka continues to have the second-highest number of enforced disappearances in the world, according to cases that have been reported to the global body.

The report, published ahead of the UN Human Rights Council session later this month, said Sri Lanka has 6,117 outstanding cases that have been submitted to the group. Only Iraq has a higher number. 

It added that it was “concerned by the deteriorating civil society space in Sri Lanka,” as human rights defenders have come under increasing state pressure since the election of accused war criminal Gotabaya Rajapaksa as president last year.

The group went on to state it “emphasizes that relatives of forcibly disappeared individuals, as well as others such as witnesses and defence counsels, should be protected against any form of intimidation, harassment or ill-treatment”.

Sri Lanka was amongst the states that did not reply to the Working Group with regards to any cases during the reporting period from May 2019 to May 2020, it added.

See the full report here.

Earlier this month Tamil families of the disappeared in the North-East have called on the international community to “accelerate the process to proclaim a meaning justice” in an “appropriate and timely manner” for those who were forcibly disappeared, in a letter sent to the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC).

They urged the UN general assembly and security council to undertake “relevant international investigations, tribunals, and international criminal jurisdictions” to prevent the “events of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances [do not] continue as a traditional event without a real meaning for it.”

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