Sri Lanka prepares response to fresh UN human rights allegations

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BEIJING, Aug. 10, 2020 (Xinhua) -- Leader of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party Mahinda Rajapaksa (L) and Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa attend a ceremony at Kelaniya Temple on the outskirts of Sri Lanka's capital Colombo, Aug. 9, 2020. Mahinda Rajapaksa took his oath as the nation's new prime minister on Sunday after his party secured a landslide victory in the recently concluded parliamentary election. (Photo by Ajith Perera/Xinhua)
BEIJING, Aug. 10, 2020 (Xinhua) -- Leader of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party Mahinda Rajapaksa (L) and Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa attend a ceremony at Kelaniya Temple on the outskirts of Sri Lanka's capital Colombo, Aug. 9, 2020. Mahinda Rajapaksa took his oath as the nation's new prime minister on Sunday after his party secured a landslide victory in the recently concluded parliamentary election. (Photo by Ajith Perera/Xinhua)

dpa/GNA – Sri Lanka’s government is pondering how it will respond to a fresh UN report that raises concerns about human rights violations during a conflict with Tamil rebels that ended a decade ago, and whether those problems still linger.

“Our Ministry of Foreign Affairs is preparing a response to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released on Wednesday in Geneva,” presidential spokesperson Mohan Samaranayake said.

The report is to be discussed at the UN Human Rights Council meeting next month in Geneva.

The report refers to alleged human rights abuses during the conflict with the Tamil rebels, which ended in May 2009, and a string of current incidents in the country.

“Sri Lanka’s current trajectory sets the scene for the recurrence of the policies and practices that gave rise to grave human rights violations,” the report said.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was president during the final stages of the conflict, is prime minister now. His brother, Gotabaya Rajapaksa was defence secretary, but was elected as president in the November 2019 elections.

The UN report refers to militarization of governmental functions. Several top positions, including in the Agriculture Ministry, Foreign Employment Bureau and Consumer Affairs Authority has been filled with retired military members.

Allegations of the reversal of important constitutional safeguards, political obstruction of accountability, exclusionary rhetoric, intimidation of civil society, and the use of anti-terrorism laws are among other issues highlighted in the UN report.

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