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UK Foreign Office concerned by continued deterioration of human rights in Sri Lanka

Photo of British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss

The UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has raised concerns over the continued deterioration of human rights in Sri Lanka which they maintain as one of their priority countries.

In their updated assessment, the FCDO highlights the Office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) reporting in January which noted "clear early warning signs of a deteriorating human rights situation and a significantly heightened risk of future violations". The update further noted the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adoption of resolution 46/1 in March which expressed serious concern over human rights in Sri Lanka and stressed the need for a "comprehensive accountability process for all human rights violations and abuses committed in Sri Lanka". The resolution also called for the collection and preservation of evidence that may be used in a future war crimes tribunal.

Notably, the FCDO condemns the proscription of several Tamil and Muslim community groups and speaks out against the restrictions on memorialisation events "particularly for communities in the North and East". This comes as Sri Lanka's security forces and courts have attempted to crack down on attempts to commemorate Maaveerar Naal.

The FCDO further slams the ongoing abuses by Sri Lanka's security forces stating:

"Security forces increased their surveillance and intimidation of human rights activists and their use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, with a number of arbitrary arrests". 

The statement adds:

"The government proposed new regulations with powers to arrest and send individuals to rehabilitation centres to be ‘deradicalised’ with no judicial oversight or requirement for further process".

The Foreign Office also spoke out against the Sri Lankan government's attempts to "obstruct accountability in a number of emblematic human rights cases" and noted the pardoning of "a convicted murderer on death row". In addition, the statement raises alarm over the appointment of "controversial individuals to lead independent institutions such as the Office of Missing Persons". This comes as Tamil victim communities have expressed their lack of faith in the OMP and have called for an independent international investigation overseen instead of continued funding for the government institution.

The Foreign Office also highlights a number of deaths in police custody which Sri Lanka's Bar Association has slammed as having “all the hallmarks of extrajudicial killings.”

Read the full statement here.

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