In a strong message issued to the Government of Sri Lanka today, three UN experts have called upon Sri Lanka to adopt immediate measures that will effectively curb the promotion of racial and faith-based hatred and bring perpetrators of religious and communal violence to justice, following just two weeks since the violence that erupted in Southern Sri Lanka.
The three UN experts on freedom of religion, minority issues and summary executions made this statement while urging the government to also adopt steps that would curb the violence instigated by extremist Buddhist groups against Muslim and Christian minority communities.
The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt has asserted in the statement that the recent violence has deteriorated due to the impunity in Sri Lanka. He has stated that impunity, coupled with inadequate response from the political and judicial authorities has created scope to further encourage attacks and the risk of spiralling violence.
Therefore, Mr. Bielefeldt has urged the government to guarantee the right to freedom of religion or belief for the members of minority religious communities by stopping any advocacy of racial and religious hatred.
Meanwhile, Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Rita Izsák has urged the government to implement protective measures that guarantee the rights of all individuals.
“The full range of rights of religious minorities must be guaranteed in law and protected in practice,” she has noted while welcoming the investigation team set by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the alleged abuses of human rights and humanitarian law during the final phases of conflict in Sri Lanka.
Christof Heyns – the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions meanwhile has also urged the Government of Sri Lanka to implement swift and effective measures to ensure the immediate adoption of robust protective measures.
Mr. Heyns has gone on to state that displaying determination to ensure accountability in cases of communal/religious or racial clashes must be a key element of the Government’s efforts to prevent the attacks and guarantee the safety of the members of religious minority communities.
In the statement that was issued by the three experts yesterday, it has been stated that over 350 violent attacks against Muslims and over 150 attacks against Christians have been reported within Sri Lanka during the past two years. The release to the government also notes that the minority communities have also been subjected to hate speech, discrimination and acts of violence throughout Sri Lanka.
“These statements contribute to spread a climate of fear among Sinhala Buddhists, who constitute the majority population in Sri Lanka, and resentment towards minorities,” the UN human rights experts have noted. (LP)