Impunity, lack of rule of law & accountability reasons for religious extremism & hate speech

The culture of impunity in Sri Lanka has been repeatedly pointed out as one of the main reasons for which religious extremism and hate speech thrive in the country, undermining the rule of law and human rights. This was stated in the report presented to the UNHRC by the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Ahmed Shaheed,on his country visit to Sri Lanka from 15 to 26 August 2019.

The Special Rapporteur specifically identifies the main challenges to the right to freedom of religion or belief and analyses the root causes of religious intolerance and associated tensions in Sri Lanka. Lastly, he provides recommendations to overcome the challenges that he has highlighted.

The Rapporteur notes that the current education system deepens the division among different religious and ethnic groups and needs urgent reform with a new curriculum that promotes the values of tolerance, embraces diversity, and fosters a common or unifying “Sri Lankan identity”.

The Rapporteur wants the media and social media platforms to enforce community standards and invest more resources to monitor and respond to incitement to hatred or violence while protecting freedom of expression and access to information.

Religious leaders to speak out against hateful narratives and reject efforts to ostracise and stigmatise minority communities and persons in vulnerable situations; promote moderate voices and stress the need for sustainable inter communal and interreligious dialogue for trust and peacebuilding as well as reconciliation.

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