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US announces fund to promote religious freedom in Sri Lanka, India

The United States Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) this week announced funds of $493,827 to promote religious freedom in Sri Lanka, as well as a further $493,827 for projects in India. 

On Sri Lanka, the DRL said it was seeking "to ensure that authorities at all levels of government in Sri Lanka effectively implement national laws and policies protecting religious freedom."

"While the country’s constitution states “every person is entitled to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice,” it gives Buddhism the “foremost place” among the country’s religious faiths and commits the government to protecting it. Non-Buddhist religious groups have reported discriminatory restrictions imposed by local government officials on religious minorities," the DRL noted. 

Detailing ideas for programs, the DRL said: 

  • trainings for local civil society groups to ensure awareness of non-discriminatory national polices and ensure policies are being implemented ;
  • supporting efforts of local civil society groups to educate local and regional government as well as the public on to implementing national policies to promote positive reform;
  • promote positive reform;
  • develop accountability mechanisms to better monitor, document and advocate against abuses by civil society or government actors;
  • support activities which foster greater coordination among civil society organizations leading to stronger networks able to effectively promote religious freedom for all.