Sri Lanka’s counter-terrorism laws perceived as anti-minority, says UN rights chief

Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations human rights chief, has expressed concern over the Sri Lankan government’s new measure which she says are “perceived” as targeting the country’s minority Muslim and Tamil population

Jun 22, 2021
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Sri Lanka (File)

Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations human rights chief, has expressed concern over the Sri Lankan government’s new measure which she says are “perceived” as targeting the country’s minority Muslim and Tamil population. 

“In Sri Lanka, I am concerned by further government measures perceived as targeting Muslims, and by the harassment of Tamils, including in the context of commemoration events for those who died at the end of the war,” Bachelet said on Monday during the opening of the UN Human Rights Council’s 47th session in Geneva. 

She also expressed concern over the recent appointments by the Sri Lankan government to the Office of Missing Persons and the Office of Reparations, claiming it would “discourage” investigations in the past crimes. These appointments would further undermine victims’ trust, she noted. 

Referring to the recent counter-terrorism measures by the Sri Lankan government, she claimed these steps would not advance reconciliation. The island nation has recently banned over 300 organizations and individuals accusing them of promoting terrorism in the country.

“Regulations now permit the arbitrary administrative detention of people for up to two years, without trial for the purposes of de-radicalization,” she claimed. 

Furthermore, she also took note of continuing series of deaths in police custody and in the context of police encounters with alleged criminal gangs. 

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