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Visit to Sri Lanka – Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association (A/HRC/44/50/Add.1)

Country: Sri Lanka Source: UN Human Rights Council Human Rights Council
Forty-fourth session
15 June 3 July 2020
Agenda item 3
Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development Summary The Secretariat has the honour to transmit to the Human Rights Council the report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Cl ment Nyaletsossi Voule, on his country visit to Sri Lanka from 18 to 26 July 2019. In this report, he presents his observations on the progress and main challenges in the exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the country. He also provides recommendations to overcome these challenges. Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association on his visit to Sri Lanka I. Introduction The Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Cl ment Nyaletsossi Voule, visited Sri Lanka from 18 to 26 July 2019 at the invitation of the Government. The purpose of the visit was to assess the exercise, promotion and protection of the rights under his mandate, following a considerable opening of civic space from 2015 and in the wake of the devastating terrorist attacks, which took place on 21 April 2019. He views the standing invitation extended by the Government to all special procedures mandate holders since 17 December 2015 as a testament to its renewed and sustained commitment to the protection of human rights for all and to engagement with United Nations human rights mechanisms. In this regard, it is his intention to present the findings and recommendations of his visit with a view to fostering a cooperative and open dialogue over the challenges and obstacles to this shared goal within the country with regards to his mandate. He is very grateful to the Government for its excellent cooperation and support before, during and after the visit, especially given the great difficulties presented at the time of his visit, with the implementation of a state of emergency following the Easter Sunday bombings. During his time in the country, he had meetings and discussions with highranking Government officials, members of Parliament and members of the judiciary. He also met with a number of independent commissions, international organizations and diplomatic representatives. After examination, he incorporated, to the extent possible, the Government s comments on the draft report, which were received on 14 April 2020. Beginning and ending his visit in Colombo, he also visited Jaffna, Keppapilavu and Trincomalee in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of the country, Negombo in the Western Province, and Galle and Matara in the Southern Province. During his visit, he met with the governors of the Northern and Southern Provinces. He also met with a wide range of civil society actors and human rights defenders working on land, environmental, educational, labour and women s rights, and on transitional justice, among others. He also wishes to thank the United Nations Resident Coordinator, the country team and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for their excellent cooperation and vital contributions prior to, during and after his visit. He further expresses his thanks to all those who took the time to meet with him, especially given the atypical environment at the time. He understands that the country was in a situation of crisis following the recent attacks and reiterates his sincere condolences to all of the victims, their relatives and the country as a whole. He views the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association as essential to the full realization of democracy, and considers that his visit came at a crucial moment for the country. In the context of upcoming elections, he believes that his visit provided an opportunity to strengthen and bolster democratic gains made by the country, ensuring that these gains are sufficiently strong to weather any attempt to roll them back. He took into great consideration the particular circumstances of Sri Lanka as a postconflict and multi-ethnic society, including the views of the Government on the specific and distinct challenges the country faced. He also conducted his work guided by several international norms and standards, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in particular articles 21 and 22; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural R the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Fr and other related United Nations resolutions and guidelines.


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