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Sri Lanka: The weakening of Independent Commissions will hamper checks & balances and protection of people’s rights. – HRC SL

In its statement to UN Human Rights Council on the High Commissioner’s Report,  Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka emphasises that the weakening of the relevant provisions of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in strengthening independent institutions will seriously hamper checks and balances and protection of people’s rights under the Rule of Law.

Sri Lanka government headed by two Rajapaksa brothers are calling for a 2/3 parliamentary majority in the upcoming general election to abolish the 19th  Amendment to the Constitution.

The HRC SL statement also says that ” the human rights protection, reconciliation and dealing with the past with empathy are all interlinked. Hence, the need to strengthen the Office of Missing Persons and the Office for Reparations”

Rajapaksa brothers want to dilute the powers of both mechanisms. They have opposed both mechanisms in the past.

The statement follows:

STATEMENT ON THE OHCHR REPORT ON SRI LANKA, UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL.
27 February,2020.

Madame President, Distinguished Delegates and Friends,

Our Commission acknowledges the continuing human rights obligations of Sri Lanka, As in the previous year, we are encouraged by the High Commissioner’s recognition of the role played by the 19th amendment to the Constitution in strengthening independent institutions which are key to discharging those obligations. The weakening of the relevant provisions will seriously hamper checks and balances and protection of people’s rights under the Rule of Law.

Indeed, the functioning of the Attorney-General’s Department and the Police in an impartial, apolitical manner is also of the essence.

Madame Chair, human rights protection, reconciliation and dealing with the past with empathy are all interlinked. Hence, the need to strengthen the Office of Missing Persons and the Office for Reparations.

They address intensely human and humanitarian issues that cannot be viewed only from a political or technical angle.

Similarly, human rights defenders and journalists should be free to act without fear of adverse consequences.

We also reiterate the importance of defeating all forms of extremism by carefully balancing public security measures with the need for greater investment in communal harmony.

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