The Minister of State is contradicting the government. spokesperson – L’île

“The government is a failure”

Sri Lankan Muslim Congress Leader Rauff Hakeem, MP, expressed deep concerns over continued human rights abuses when he received a delegation of six members of the European Union (EU ) here to review the Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP +), in Darusalaam, Tuesday (28).

The former minister alleged that Muslim minorities were being targeted and that the government was brazenly using the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) to hunt down opposition parties and those fighting for democracy and human rights. SLMC leader Hakeem and his Party Secretary Nizam Kariapper, PC highlighted what they called the worst types of human rights violations that have occurred in the country in recent times.

The EU delegation, composed of Nikolaos Zaimis, Senior Advisor for Trade and Sustainable Development, Ionnis Giogkarakis-Argyropoulos, Head of Division South Asia, European External Action Service (EEAS), Guido Dolara, GSP Coordinator Trade Preferences, Lluis Prats – Head of Unit, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Commission, and Monika Bylaite, Head of Office for Sri Lanka and Maldives, EEAS, met with MPs Hakeem and Kariapper.

The EU delegation inquired about SLMC’s point of view on the current situation in the country. The EU’s request prompted SLMC representatives to declare that the PTA was being used as a tool for the harassment of certain people and communities.

They recalled the detention of lawyer and public litigation activist Hejaaz Hezbollah. “He has been detained for almost a year and a half. He is the only lawyer who has been detained under the PTA ”. The MEP reiterated to the EU delegation that the wrongful detention of the lawyer was mentioned in the European Parliament resolution adopted in June 2021.

MP Hakeem said the lawyer could be released on bail and the case could go to court, but the government decided to keep him under the PTA and use his detention for political purposes.

Likewise, several young people, old people and women have been detained without charge, said the MP.

Police have arrested Hezbollah for its alleged links to those involved in the Easter Sunday 2019 attacks.

The former minister also highlighted the controversy over Muslim religious issues, particularly the changes to be made to the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA), and said it had been fully resolved by the community. Nonetheless, beyond that, the government has overstepped and intervened in these matters. “We have made it clear that this government needs to make some changes in its efforts to intervene without the need for a separate legal process for Muslims,” ​​he added.

“We should also discuss the matter with the Minister of Justice. We have also made it clear to the EU that these issues should not be allowed to become a problem in which the government unnecessarily deprives minorities of their rights. At the same time, we also told the EU delegation that we hold and agree with all provisions for the full recognition of the rights of Muslim women ”.

In addition to issues related to Muslims, the MP stressed that the current government’s emergency legislation should be lifted. He noted that the emergency law had been used to restrict freedom of expression, protests and anti-government activities in the country.

The SLMC leader said the government had failed to take action to curb the actions of Buddhist monks who spread hate speech as the people faced a crisis situation in the country.

“Our intention is not to suspend the benefits of GSP Plus for Sri Lanka, but we know that it depends on how the government extends its support to contain the ongoing human rights violations in the country. We expressed that we are not satisfied with the government and that the government is a failure, ”he added.

“This is not satisfactory as the opposition and those who are concerned about human rights and therefore we have urged the EU to take the necessary steps to put the government on the right track by taking alternative measures .

He also said the government should explicitly show that it is refraining from supporting Buddhist monks. “In addition, there should be penalties for inciting and executing hate speech, but we don’t want that to happen. It is the pro-government media that give them the opportunity to use the platform and the government should take action to stop them ”.

At the same time, those monks who spoke on behalf of state intelligence and upper echelons of government, leave a strong suspicion that the government was behind the movement. The government must act with transparency, he said.

The MP also condemned the series of gazette notifications published by the government. They made no sense because they did not control the prices of the goods. “The government is a failure,” he said.

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