Opinion

Human Rights in SL: the case for intervention in Geneva

Summary

We are talking of laws that contain provisions in the constitution that could be considered discriminatory under the UN Human Rights Conventions.

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Sarah Hulton, the British High Commissioner in Colombo and the UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka Hanaa Singer, considering their professed concern for human rights and the general well being of Sri Lankans, can really push for reforms that can deliver the goodies. Goodies as in affirming human rights and considerably enhancing citizens’ well being.

The two, like fellow travelers in the human rights business or rather nose-pokers in such things to further agendas that have nothing to do with these things, have been noising over the disposal of bodies, bodies of those who died after being infected by Covid-19.

They have a point. The Government has played into the hands of the lunatic fringe of nationalism. If it’s hard to decide, here’s the logic:
The risk of spread following burial of the Civid-Dead is minimal. Not absolutely safe, but minimal.   There is a risk, then. Given that knowledge of the virus and its behavior is still in infancy, there is an argument for erring on the side of caution.

HOWEVER…

Such risks as there may be are LESS than the risk of someone being infected while going about his/her business — attending school, participating in a workshop, buying groceries, visiting a friend or relative etc.

NOT FORGETTING THAT…

Disposing dead bodies has impacted ALLL RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES. Some understand that a pandemic is an extraordinary situation which demands extraordinary measures. Some don’t. Some do, but whine.

NEVERTHELESS…

The Government can permit burial at this point. The Government SHOULD permit burial.  

HOWEVER…
There are other and more urgent infringements than affirming religious freedoms or, as it’s been put, being sensitive to the faith-driven ‘prerogatives’ of a particular religious community.

Now Hulton, SInger, Alaina B Teplitz (US Ambassador) and others who play games such as Selectivity and Vexatious Persecution, probably know that unlike, say in the USA, UK and most o Europe, Sri Lanka is a country where the rights of religious minorities are strongly affirmed. And we are not talking about the apportionment of religious holidays among these communities (Buddhists have 13, Hindus just 3, Christians 54 (!!) And Muslims well over a dozen considering all the ‘offs’ on Fridays and during Ramadan). Maybe these worthies can agitate for more equity or as per the secularist posturing of their local pals, push the government to remove all religious holidays and offer, say, a maximum of 3 days per year under ‘religious leave’ for one and all.

It’s not about holidays.
NO…

We are talking of laws that contain provisions in the constitution that could be considered discriminatory under the UN Human Rights Conventions.

TAKE A LOOK:

Act 13 of 1951 section 23 of, permits a Muslim girl to marry after attaining the age of twelve. However, the section also places an exception thereto. In terms of Muslim Personal Law (MPL), it is also possible for a Muslim girl to marry after reaching the age of puberty.

Act 13 of 1951 allows a Muslim man to contract more than one marriage. Section 24(1) of Act 13 of 1951 states: “Where a married male Muslim living with or maintaining one or more wives intends to contract another marriage, he shall, at least thirty days before contracting such other marriage, give notice of his intention to the Quazi for the area in which he resides, and to the Quazi or Quazis for the area in which his wife or each of his wives resides, and to the Quazi for the area in which the person whom he intends to marry resides.”

WELL…

Come to think of it, maybe Hulton, Singer, Teplitz and their boyfriends and girlfriends in the human rights business (in and out of Sri Lanka) can get together, read the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Laws, the Waqf Act and pencil all that is WAY OUT OF ORDER in the matter of gender equality and equality across religious communities.

Now that would be something juicy to munch on while these physicians go about prescribing an entire pharmacy full of curatives for Sri Lanka, would it not?

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