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UN Special Rapporteurs call on Sri Lanka to reconsider compulsory cremations

Special Rapporteurs are calling on the Sri Lankan government to reconsider the order for compulsory cremations for coronavirus victims.

In a letter to Sri Lanka’s President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Special Rapporteurs explained that they are “concerned that the amendment is inconsistent with the Infection Prevention and control for the safe management of a dead body in the context of COVID-19 guideline provided by World Health Organisation.”

A gazette notification was released on Saturday, with Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi further stating that "the corpse of a person who has died or is suspected to have died, of... COVID-19 shall be cremated.” 

“Furthermore, we are concerned of the lack of consideration provided and the lack of sensitivity in the Ministry of Heath Guideline to different communities and their religious and cultural practices,” they added.

“When cultural or religious sensitivities are involved, an inclusive and participatory dialogue or consultation with relevant stakeholders, including the civil society and different ethnic or religious communities must be conducted before a decision is taken.”

The signatories are: Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Dainius Puras, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues and Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.

See the full letter here.

 

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