Breach of Sri Lanka's international obligation to protect human rights

Apr 1 (IL) The National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka declared that the proposed Anti-Conversion bill is in breach of Sri Lanka's international obligations towards the protection of human rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In a statement signed by General Secretary of the NCEASL, Godfrey Yogarajah said the tarnishing of our nation's image as a human rights violators would cause irreparable damage to the economy-a luxury that we could ill afford at this time of national crisis.

The Alliance also alleged by the introduction of the anti-conversion bill in Parliament the politicians were trying to divide the citizens who stood together helping each other at the worse tsunami tragedy.

The statement said instead of seizing this opportunity to build unity among the communities, it was regrettable that lawmakers are attempting to introduce shortsighted legislation that would divide society by prompting religious strife.

"At a time when we as a nation are struggling to recover from the cataclysmic effects of the tsunami, such a move by the government to impose a potentially volatile law that is restrictive of human rights and individual freedom, and which legitimise oppressing citizens of minority religions is in our opinion, untimely and frivolous.

"The destruction and anguish caused to our nation by 20 years of manmade conflict pales in comparison to the unimaginable blow that dealt us on the morning of the December 26 2004.

"The tsunami waves took the lives of over 40,000 people sweeping over ethnic, social and religious divides erected by society with the same indiscriminate force that swept away concrete mansions and mud huts," the NCEASL said.

It also said this proposed legislation would go beyond its declared purpose of 'Protecting religious freedom' of all religious groups.

In fact it would enforce limitations on religious freedom, legitimise violence and harassment of minority religious groups and further fragmented our religiously divided society. The alliance expressed their deep concern and regret at the reported move by the government to introduce a Bill restricting the rights of citizen to convert from one religion to another.