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Anglican Church of Ceylon calls for urgent action from UN Human Rights Council

Posted on: September 24, 2021 11:15 AM
The second anniversary of the Easter Sunday bomb attacks in April 2019 was marked by Catholic priests and nuns marching while holding images of the victims next to Saint Sebastian's Church, one of the attacked churches, in Katuwapitiya, Sri Lanka.
Photo Credit: Dinuka Liyanawatte / Reuters

The Anglican Church of Ceylon, with support from the Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations, is calling on urgent action from the Human Rights Council. 

The Anglican Church of Ceylon is increasingly concerned by the deterioration of human rights in Sri Lanka. They have highlighted the polarisation of institutions and society, the politicisation of the vaccination efforts, the militarisation of politics and other institutions, and government crackdowns on peaceful protestors. 

Their case is being presented to the 48th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council by the Anglican Communion’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Jack Palmer-White. The Anglican Communion Office at the UN submitted a report to the Council with specific recommendations for the government of Sri Lanka based upon the concerns of the Church of Ceylon. 

The report looked at ethno-nationalistic sentiments that favour the majoritarian ethnicity and religion and calls out the politicisation of Covid vaccination efforts. The report said that: “the government has done little to address the false accusations on social media that Muslims were deliberately spreading the virus and corresponding calls to boycott Muslim businesses.” 

It recommended that the government continue the process of constitutional reforms, “including consideration of a new Bill of Rights that will, amongst others, guarantee the right to life and the right to non-discrimination on any ground”. 

It also highlighted concerns over military personnel continuing to be appointed to government posts, and the lack of accountability from the ruling party, particularly in the investigation of the Easter Sunday attacks of 2019. The report recommends an end military involvement in civilian functions. 

The report said: “the cornerstone of any democracy must be the ability to entertain opposing views. The current approach of the government does not reflect values that contribute to a society built on universal equality and dignity. From the perspective of the Church, which is apolitical and aims to be a source of integration, this approach directly conflicts with its presence and ministry in this diverse country.” 

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States. The Council is responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe. The 48th session of the Human Rights Council began on 13 September and continues to 8 October.