The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act, the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and the Vagrants Ordinance are frequently applied in a discriminatory manner, visiting UN Expert Clément Nyaletsossi Voule yesterday said.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, Voule expressed these views at a news briefing held at the UN compound in Colombo. UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Hanaa Singer was also present at the briefing.
He said the Sri Lankan Constitution protects the rights to both freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association but said he was made aware of a number of laws whose application jeopardised those rights.
“Including some sections of the penal code, the ICCPR Act, as well as the PTA jeopardised rights. The Vagrants Ordinance is also used, specifically in targeting LGBTI minorities. It has been brought to my attention that these laws are frequently applied in a discriminatory manner against those people organising around specific issues such as disappearances, land rights, livelihood and access to resources, and development projects,” Voule said.
He said the government must equally act to address the root causes of protests, dealing head on with the issues raised by participants in the course of their demonstrations.
During his visit, the UN expert travelled to the North, South and East of Sri Lanka, as well as the capital, Colombo. He met Government officials and representatives of civil society, trade unions and others. He thanks the government for the invitation and the cooperation before and during the visit.
The Special Rapporteur conclusions and recommendations will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2020. (Lahiru Pothmulla)