The human rights situation in Sri Lanka continued to deteriorate during the first half of 2021. Government marginalisation of minority groups continued, with the banning of several groups including Tamil and Muslim welfare organisations, and restrictions on memorialisation events particularly for communities in the North and East, the United Kingdom said in its latest report on the global human rights situation.
In July 2021, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) published the 2020 Annual Human Rights and Democracy Report. The report provided an assessment of the global human rights situation, and set out the UK Government’s thematic, consular, and programme work to advance human rights throughout the world. It focused on 31 countries where we are particularly concerned about human rights issues, and where we consider that the UK can make a real difference.
This statement, published by Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office provides an updated assessment of 31 priority countries from Jan.1 to June 30, 2021 and Sri Lanka is among the 31 Human Rights Priority Countries.
The human rights situation in Sri Lanka continued to deteriorate during the first half of 2021. The January 2021 report on Sri Lanka by the Office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed deep concern over “trends emerging over the past year, which represent clear early warning signs of a deteriorating human rights situation and a significantly heightened risk of future violations”. The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted resolution 46/1 in March, expressing serious concern about these trends, and stressing the importance of a comprehensive accountability process for all human rights violations and abuses committed in Sri Lanka.
Security forces increased their surveillance and intimidation of human rights activists and their use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, with a number of arbitrary arrests. The government proposed new regulations with powers to arrest and send individuals to rehabilitation centres to be ‘deradicalised’ with no judicial oversight or requirement for further process.
The President pardoned a convicted murderer on death row and appointed controversial individuals to lead independent institutions such as the Office of Missing Persons. The government initiated activity to obstruct accountability in a number of emblematic human rights cases. There were several deaths in custody which the Sri Lankan Bar Association described as having “all the hall-marks of extrajudicial killings.”
Government marginalisation of minority groups continued, with the banning of several groups including Tamil and Muslim welfare organisations, and restrictions on memorialisation events particularly for communities in the North and East, the report further said.