The latest Foreign and Commonwealth Office report of the UK said the human rights situation in Sri Lanka was mixed in 2018 with key concerns including increased inter-communal tensions and slow delivery of key reconciliation commitments.
The 2018 Foreign and Commonwealth Office report on Human Rights and Democracy which was published on June 5, also said there were delays in introducing counter-terrorism legislation and a stalled transitional justice process in Sri Lanka.
It said a 51-day constitutional crisis, which began in October, further disrupted effective delivery on human rights promises.
“However, the crisis ultimately confirmed the resilience of parliament and the judiciary. The constitutional crisis which began in October further highlighted the important role of independent institutions, with the judiciary delivering a number of important determinations, upholding and safeguarding the Constitution,” it said.
In February and March last year, the report said anti-Muslim riots took place in Ampara and Kandy, resulting in three associated deaths, the damage or destruction of over 400 Muslim-owned properties, and a 12-day State of Emergency, during which some social media platforms were blocked by the government.
“Over 100 arrests were made, although no trials have taken place as yet. In May, a prominent extremist Buddhist monk was convicted on multiple counts of harassment and intimidation of witnesses,” it said.
It said the long-awaited Office on Missing Persons began operations in February, and submitted an interim report with recommendations in September.
“In October, parliament passed the Office of Reparations Bill, although it is yet to be operationalised. There was some further return of military occupied land, but the size of the military presence in the north remained similar to 2017,” it said.
The report said in 2019, the UK will continue to press for further progress on human rights, including efforts to improve press freedoms, tackle gender inequality, and encourage the reform of discriminatory laws in Sri Lanka.
“We will continue to urge the government to deliver on its commitments reflected in UNHRC resolution 34/1,” it said.