Muslim countries strongly condemn Sri Lanka’s draconian laws and HR violations

Sri Lanka continues to come under intense international condemnation for its draconian laws and gross human rights violation in spite of a resolution being passed against it in the UN Human Rights Council as recently as in March this year.

Now the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has categorically condemned Sri Lanka’s enactment of discriminatory laws under the pretext of ‘deradicalization’ and ‘counter terrorism’ prompting arbitrary arrest, torture.

Arbitrary detention & torture

The Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of the OIC has come down heavily on Sri Lanka saying the banning of the burqa tantamount to grave deprivations of the human rights of the Muslim minorities in the country in violation of its international human rights obligations.

“The IPHRC and OIC joins the international community in strongly condemning the Sri Lankan Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and its recently enacted regulation namely ‘De-radicalization from holding violent extremist religious ideology’ which allows creation of ‘Reintegration centres’ to arbitrarily detain Muslims and subject them to torture and other human rights violation without any legal oversight with impunity”.

IPHRC says the newly imposed ban on Burqa, under the pretext of counter terrorism measures, squarely violates minorities right to freedom of religion guaranteed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Urging the Sri Lankan government to immediately repeal the draconian PTA the IPHRC-OIC statement says it is taking a serious note of the UNHCR report, which highlighted the prevalence of endemic patterns of custodial deaths, torture and other ill-treatment, and extrajudicial killings with impunity.

Banning Burqa

The report says the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the prevailing marginalization and discrimination suffered by the Muslim Community. IPHRC-OIC also demands the Sri Lankan government to have an impartial investigation into the reported incidents of human rights violations by allowing access to justice and free trial to all its minorities.

Strongly criticizing the ban on Burqa, the commission while expressing its serious concern, stressed that such a ban would violate the Muslim women’s freedom to manifest their religion and exercise their choice for identity and enjoy their own culture and to profess and practice their own religion as guaranteed under the ICCPR.

“Discriminatory measures will also cement negative stereotypes against Muslim women, disproportionately restrict their freedom to manifest their religion, cause intersectional discrimination and greater marginalization as well as stoke undue hostility / physical violence because of their clothing”.

IPHRC-OIC says that such a majoritarian rhetoric and discriminatory measure are contrary to the ideals of pluralism, counter-productive to societal cohesion and clear manifestations of Islamophobia.

Ahnaf Jazeem

The commission has urged the Sri Lankan Government to fulfil its international human rights obligations by ensuring to protect the rights of its Muslim minority. It has also called upon the Muslim community and human rights organisations in Sri Lanka to exhaust all available domestic remedies including domestic courts for redressal of grievances and repeal of discriminatory laws.

The OIC has also called upon the international community to engage with Sri Lankan authorities to seek redressal for the aggrieved minority including by punishing those found guilty according to international human rights law.

Tamil and Muslim minorities in Sri Lanka are arrested under the PTA on flimsy grounds and are detained by the notorious SL Counter Terrorism Investigation Division (CITD) for months, sometimes years together without charging them and producing the individuals in court.

Recently a court in Sri Lanka granted time for the CITD to ‘record a statement’ from a young Muslim poet- Ahnaf Jaseem ‘confessing to being sympathetic’ to the dreaded terror group ISIS. His family has denied any such move and have called the police statement as a ‘blatant lie’. He has been detained for a year now without being produced in court for publishing an anthology of poems in which he has actually decried terrorism in any form.

His lawyers have now said he is to be produced in the Supreme court on the 6th of May in the fundamental rights case filed by his family seeking his release.



Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  • JDS is the Sri Lankan partner organization of international media rights group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The launching of this website was made possible by the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), of which Reporters Without Borders is a beneficiary.