Accountability key to Sri Lanka’s future: UN rights chief

UN Excessive Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, careworn the urgency of addressing these challenges if the nation is to maneuver ahead, recalling the 2022 anti-Authorities protests demanding a fairer and extra inclusive society.

“However the potential for a historic transformation that may deal with long-standing challenges is way from being realized.”

The UN rights chief’s message coincides with the launch of a brand new report documenting the nation’s human rights state of affairs. It outlines the challenges and alternatives to handle them, within the wake of the 2022 financial disaster.

Households seek for reality

Though the brutal decades-long civil warfare ended greater than 14 years in the past, tens of hundreds of victims and their households in Sri Lanka nonetheless search reality and justice.

Whereas the Authorities proposed a brand new truth-seeking mechanism, significant and clear consultations with victims and civil society are important for the success of any transitional justice course of, OHCHR stated.

This consists of placing an finish to all types of harassment and illegal surveillance, and supporting initiatives to acknowledge and memorialize victims’ experiences.

“Reality-seeking alone won’t suffice. It should even be accompanied by a transparent dedication to accountability and the political will to implement far-reaching change,” Mr. Türk stated.

Issues over proposed legal guidelines

The report raises issues over proposed new legal guidelines, such because the Anti-Terrorism Invoice earlier than parliament and laws to manage broadcasting.

It additionally highlights the necessity for complete safety sector reform, together with lowered navy spending and a minimize in navy personnel in areas affected by armed battle.

The report additionally calls on the authorities to speed up investigations and prosecutions into emblematic circumstances of human rights violations, in addition to the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, which claimed 269 lives and injured over 500.

In July 2022, autorickshaws wait in a long queue at a Sri Lankan fuel station, amidst a severe economic crisis.

In July 2022, autorickshaws wait in a protracted queue at a Sri Lankan gasoline station, amidst a extreme financial disaster.

Financial disaster

The report summarizes the influence of the 2022 financial disaster on the human rights and well-being of Sri Lankans.

The disaster resulted in extreme shortages in gasoline, electrical energy, meals, medicines, and different important objects. Whereas some stabilization occurred in 2023, many skilled a pointy decline in residing requirements, and the nation nonetheless grapples with a heavy debt burden.

Poverty has virtually doubled – from 13 per cent in 2021 to 25 per cent in 2022, in line with World Financial institution estimates, and it’s projected to additional rise to 27.4 per cent this 12 months, and stay over 25 per cent for the subsequent few years.

Girls have borne a “distinct influence” post-crisis, as many are primarily engaged in casual sectors of the financial system and face restricted entry to social safety, stated OHCHR.

Meals and schooling

Meals insecurity and entry to well being and schooling additionally stay main issues.

Throughout the nation, about 37 per cent of households confronted acute meals insecurity in November 2022, resulting in a major variety of households shopping for cheaper much less nutritious meals and generally skipping meals altogether, resulting in fears of rising malnutrition amongst kids.

Psychological well being has additionally been affected as folks face a number of stresses resulting from value will increase, shortage and lack of earnings.

Entry to schooling can be in danger, amid rising truancy resulting from competing financial wants, and better transport and meals prices.

Youngsters from socioeconomically deprived backgrounds and women are notably susceptible, OHCHR famous.


The report outlines a collection of suggestions, together with a name on the Authorities to ensure folks’s financial and social rights, deal with corruption and create an enabling surroundings for a profitable and sustainable transitional justice course of.

It additionally urges elevated ladies’s participation in political life and decision-making, in addition to making certain free and truthful elections in any respect ranges of presidency.

The report additionally calls on the worldwide group to assist efficient and significant transitional justice processes, in compliance with worldwide norms, and focused sanctions in opposition to these credibly alleged to have perpetrated gross human rights violations.

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