The UN human rights body has said Sri Lanka has failed to address long-standing challenges of political and democratic reforms. However, the island nation has rejected these claims.
Addressing the 54th regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Monday, UN Deputy High Commissioner Nada Al-Nashif said Sri Lanka is facing a deep economic crisis by 2022 and the current stress in the global economy.
He said that there were protests in Sri Lanka demanding deep political and democratic reforms. Even after a year, there were hopes of tackling the long-standing challenges, but this has not been accomplished yet. Nada said the delay in holding local government elections and reconstitution of provincial councils under the 13th Amendment has limited people's political participation and voters' right to free expression.
The human rights body said the economic crisis has significantly affected the rights of large sections of the population in Sri Lanka, but has disproportionately affected poor and marginalized communities. The country's poverty rate is expected to rise from 13% in 2021 to 25% in 2022, Nada said, pushing another 2.5 million people into poverty and an estimated 37% of households facing acute food insecurity. He said that 14 years after the civil war ended, thousands of victims and their families continue to suffer pain and suffering while waiting for truth, justice and healing.
Himali Subhashini Arunathilaka, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva, rejected the allegations. 'Sri Lanka rejects all findings and recommendations, including those referring to targeted sanctions, as they are based on inaccurate and unverified sources,' he said.
"It is regrettable that OHCHR has ignored the democratic resilience of the country and its institutions, which it has demonstrated over the past year," Aruntilaka said. UN Deputy Human Rights Chief Nada also said in her statement that accountability is vital to securing Sri Lanka's present and future.