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UK Human Rights Report indicates improvement in Sri Lanka: Expresses concern over inter-communal tension


The United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) released its annual Human Rights Report for 2016, in which, while welcoming improvement in human rights, it expressed continued concern in certain areas, including inter-communal tension.

In the report released yesterday, the FCO noted that inter-communal tensions remain an area of concern ‘that has escalated in 2017’, and said it hoped the government would heed calls to address hate speech.

The FCO commended the progress made by Sri Lanka against commitments reflected in UN Human Rights Council (HRC) Resolution 30/1, but pointed out that greater progress is needed.

It also welcomed the step towards reconciliation by the passing of legislation establishing an Office of Missing Persons (OMP) but urged the government of Sri Lanka to operationalize the OMP as soon as possible.

The report also called on the GoSL to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and draft new counter-terrorism legislation in line with international human rights standards.

The report also pointed out the need to further develop of the police force, in order to reduce the risk of human rights violations, including torture, and improving public confidence in the rule of law.

The UK Government has pledged £6.6m in the period 2016 – 2019 to continue support for reconciliation and human rights.

Work with the Government of Sri Lanka will aim to continue to strengthen democracy and the rule of law, and to share UK experience and expertise, the UK Foreign Office said.  

British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka James Dauris, said: “The purpose of our Annual Report is to draw attention to human rights issues of concern in countries around the world, to encourage progress and recognize achievements made. In the past year we have engaged closely with the Sri Lankan Government and many others to support delivery on human rights commitments.”

Sri Lanka is one of 30 ‘Human Rights Priority Countries’ (HRPCs), countries with which the UK looks for positive engagement that contributes to addressing human rights concerns.