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UNHRC Chief Says Government Policies Have Targeted Muslims

Sri Lanka Updates
1. Government Amplifies Prevention Of Terrorism Act In Sri Lanka
2. Under New PTA Regulations, 11 Muslim Groups Banned in Sri Lanka
3. Government Begins Framework For Anti-Conversion Laws
4. Unlawful PTA Allows For Detention Up To 18 Months Without Trial Or Charge In Sri Lanka
5. U.S. Congress Introduces Bipartisan Resolution On Sri Lanka To Seek Justice And Accountability 
6. Government Moves Forward With Burqa And Niqab Ban
7. Res 413 Has Been Sent To The U.S House Foreign Affairs Committee
8. European Parliament Threatens To Pull GSP+ Status If PTA Not Repealed
9. UNHRC Chief Says Government Policies Have Targeted Muslims
10. Sri Lankan President Pardons 94, Including Convicted Murderer
11. China’s Oppression Of Muslims Could Be Influencing Srilanka
12. PTA Detainee Hejaaz Hizbullah Has Been Declared A Prisoner Of Conscience
13. Threat Of Intergovernmental Militarization Looms
14. Right To Protest Under Threat As 42 Arrested
15. Rapporteur Says That De-radicalization Regulations Could Lead To Silence Of Those Who Criticize Government
16. Covid Burial Site Already Reaching Capacity As Additional Space Confirmed
17. Opposition Party Accuses President Of Becoming Authoritarian
18. UN Special Rapporteur Says PTA Detainee Hejaaz Hizbullah Has Been Wrongfully Connected To Easter 2019
19. Prison Conditions Poor, Overcrowded; Detainees Tell Stories Of Sexual Assault And Torture
20. President Rajapaksa meets with UN Secretary General Antony Guterres
21. BBS Monk Thero Makes Hateful Comments About Muslims On Television
22. India, China, And Sri Lanka Are Connected In Targeted Oppression
23. Justice Minister Sabry Says PTA Is Unlikely To Ever Be Abolished

United Nations Human Rights Chief Michele Bachelet spoke at the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) 47th session in Geneva on June 21. In her opening statement, she expressed concern at some of the people who had been placed to work at Sri Lanka’s Office of Missing Persons and Office for Reparations. Two individuals are wartime police head Jayantha Wickramaratne and Major General Palithe Fernando. Investigations into past crimes have been discouraged through the office, which deteriorates trust.

Bachelet said that she saw a continuation of government policies which were perceived to target Muslims and harass Tamils. There were over 300 groups and individuals that were added to a list of supporters of terrorism in Sri Lanka. These were under the new regulations of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). Another new regulation allows the detainment of a person for up to two years without trial to be “deradicalized.” These policies are toxic to reconciliation, she said.

Bachelet also mentioned the alarming number of deaths under police custody; in particular they were in context to police encountering alleged gangs. She has called for an independent investigation and will continue to communicate with Sri Lanka’s government, updating the UNHRC in September.

On June 9 of this year, the European Parliament voted heavily in favor, with 628-15-40 of adopting a resolution for the Sri Lankan government to repeal the PTA. It called for the temporary suspension of the country’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences plus status (GSP +) if the PTA wasn’t removed.

In March, countries had followed Bachelet’s concerns and voiced their own, pushing for the UNHCR’s resolution “to collect, consolidate, analyse and preserve information and evidence, and to develop possible strategies for future accountability processes for gross violations of human rights or serious violations of international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka, to advocate for victims and survivors, and to support relevant judicial and other proceedings”. They were North Macedonia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Malawi, Montenegro, and Canada.

The UN Core Group said on June 22 that they were disappointed with Sri Lanka’s progress with the resolution (46/1). In particular, it was concerned with both the PTA and rehabilitation regulations which they said lacked proper judicial oversight. They mentioned by name Hejaaz Hizbullah and Ahnaaf Jazeem’s continued detentions and the use of the PTA for both political and minority oppression.

Sri Lankan Justice Minister Ali Sabry said on June 23 that the government will be reforming the PTA for what they say will be for the benefit of national security and human rights. He said if there is not a court case, people should be freed from jail.

Sabry said the reforms are not related to the threats from the European Parliament to pull GSP +.

Also in Sri Lanka, the military is investigating reports of soldiers publicly humiliating Muslims. There social media posts that showed soldiers forcing Muslims to kneel in the middle of the road while holding their hands in the air as a form of punishment for disregarding lockdown regulations.

The military responded by saying they would take strict disciplinary action. The officer invovled has allegedly been removed and the soldiers who humiliated them have been told to leave the area according to Al Jazeera.

Minister of Youth and Sports, Namal Rajapaksa also admitted on June 22 that there were many, mostly youth in remand prison, and that they have been there without trial for years.

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UN rights chief voices concern over SL’S counter-terrorism laws
UN slams Sri Lanka’s new and current terror laws
Sri Lanka investigates troops over ‘humiliation’ of Muslims
SL lacks progress in protecting human rights: UN Core Group
Lack of good governance will cost Sri Lanka dearly
Belated acknowledgement of prolonged injustice
Release those still in remand on suspicion of LTTE Terrorism: Namal
PTA to be reformed: Sabry

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