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UK calls on Sri Lanka to engage with UN recommendations

The British government has called on Sri Lanka to engage with recommendations put forward by the UN Special Rapporteur on Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly, following the release of a report which expressed “deep concern” at developments on the island.

UN Special Rapporteur Clément N. Voule had expressed repeated concern at how “rapidly” changes had taken place in Sri Lanka since presidential elections last year, citing ethnic discrimination, miltiarisation and intimidation of civil society in an address to the UN Human Rights Council last week.

“The United Kingdom welcomes the Special Rapporteur’s recent report,” said a statement from the British delegation in Geneva. "We note your recent important visit to Sri Lanka, and encourage the Sri Lankan government to engage with your recommendations.”

Sri Lanka had initially responded to the report by stating the Special Rapporteur should “be mindful of that stark reality when making recommendations related to security sector reforms”.

“Peaceful assembly and association, including peaceful protest, is a vital means for citizens to express concerns,” said the UK. “Such activities are often facilitated by civil society organisations. Suppressing peaceful assembly or association, or placing unwarranted restrictions upon such activity, can increase social tensions and frustrations, and alienate citizens from the government. In line with the views of the Special Rapporteur, we agree that such restrictions can exacerbate the marginalisation of some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.”

See the full text of the British statement here.

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