The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet expressing concern over the religious and ethnic tensions arose in Sri Lanka following the terrorist attacks by Muslim Jihadists on Easter Sunday, said the friction between the government and the President is a human right concern.
Delivering the opening statement at the 41st session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva Monday, Bachelet said she is disturbed by the attacks on the Muslims following the Easter Sunday bombings and hate speech by some religious leaders.
“In Sri Lanka, I am concerned that the terrorist attacks two months ago have fuelled increasing tensions,” she said adding that she is disturbed by reports of anti-Muslim attacks.
“Represent statements by some religious leaders inciting violence constitute worrying early warning indicators that should be addressed,” she said.
“The lack of a unified approach between the President and Government regarding key human rights concerns risks adverse impact on the effectiveness of the security forces in ensuring safety and protection for all,” Bachelet noted.
“While some counter-terrorism measures are warranted, the state of emergency should be of minimal duration, and a priority should be given to bringing political, religious and other community leaders together to address root causes of all forms of violence and discrimination.”
The High Commissioner commended the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka for its commendable and courageous role.
“In this context, I express my support to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka for its commendable and courageous role,” she said.
Highlighting her concerns about violence, and the incitement of violence, on the basis of religion – both in the real world, and online, the High Commissioner noted the need to act both with great urgency and great care against religious violence and hate speech.
“We must be more vigilant in the face of the hatred and violent extremism which feed off each other. But we need to act both with great urgency and great care,” she said.
Bachelet pointed out that as the new UN Strategy and Action Plan on Hate Speech emphasizes, the misuse of excessively broad restrictions on freedom of speech may lead to silencing critics and the intensification of attacks on the press and human rights advocates.