U.N. official urges Sri Lanka to take stronger measures to protect minorities

By Shihar Aneez | COLOMBO

Sri Lanka’s government must “clearly demonstrate” its political will and commitment to better protect the Indian Ocean island’s minorities by taking urgent steps to resolve post-war issues, a United Nations rights expert said on Thursday.

Since the end of a 26-year war in May 2009, successive Sri Lankan governments have yet to take strong action to ensure minority rights.

Several religious places were attacked during the tenure of former leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, defeated in a January 2015 election by President Maithripala Sirisena.

Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party, once Rajapaksa’s power base, now governs in coalition with the United National Party (UNP), led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

A visit by Rita Izsak-Ndiaye, the UN special rapporteur on minority issues, comes amid complaints of rights violations by ethnic minority Tamils and Muslims.

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