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Sri Lankan Supreme Court dismisses petitions filed against forced cremations

The Supreme Court dismissed all petitions filed against Sri Lanka's forced cremation policy of Muslim COVID-19 victims, according to the Daily FT

Several petitions were filed after the Sri Lankan government made cremations complusory for all coronavirus victims, disregarding advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and going against Islamic tradition as racist false rumours against the island's Muslim community continue to circulate. 

Last month, UN Resident Coordinator, Hanaa Singer appealed to Colombo reconsider the forced cremation policy. 

"I fear that not allowing burials is having a negative effect on social cohesion and, more importantly, could also adversely impact the measures for containing the virus as it may discourage people to access medical care when they have symptoms or history of contact," she said. 

Singer called on Sri Lanka to uphold the rights of all communities and revise the current policy as "the negative consequence of not allowing burials seem to outweigh any potential epidemiological benefit," Singer added. Sri Lanka also been internationally condemned for it's forced cremation policy.

International groups have pointed out that International Human Rights Law protects the freedom of religion of all people, which includes manifesting their religion or belief in worship, observance and practice. It also stresses that religious minorities shall not be denied the right, in the coommunity with other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture as well as to profess and practice their religion. 

The mandatory cremation policy forms part of Sri Lanka's rising anti-Muslim sentiment. Last year, Sri Lankan authorities did not intervene to stop attacks on Muslim-owned shops and homes by violent mobs following the Easter Sunday attacks. 





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