COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
30 July-17 August 2001
321. The Committee considered the seventh, eighth and ninth periodic reports
of Sri Lanka (CERD/C/357/Add.3), which were due on 20 March 1995, 1997
and 1999, respectively, at its 1478th and 1479th meetings (CERD/C/SR.1478
and 1479), on 7 and 8 August 2001. At its 1487th meeting (CERD/C/SR.1487),
on 14 August 2001, it adopted the following concluding observations.
322. The Committee welcomes the seventh, eighth and ninth periodic reports
of Sri Lanka, as well as the supplementary report presented by the State
party. The additional oral and written information provided by the delegation
during its presentation is also welcome. The Committee expresses its appreciation
for the opportunity to continue its dialogue with the State party.
and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Convention
323. The Committee recognizes that the serious internal situation faced
by the State party has not been conducive to the effective implementation
of the Convention. The long-lasting armed conflict in the country has
resulted in thousands of persons killed and over half a million internally
displaced. It is the view of this Committee that military means will not
solve the conflict and that only a negotiated political solution, which
includes the participation of all parties, will lead to peace and harmony
among ethnic communities in the island.
324. The Committee welcomes the establishment of the Human Rights Commission
in March 1997, aimed at, inter alia, investigating and settling
human rights complaints, advising the Government in the formulation of
relevant legislation and making recommendations to the Government on human
325. It further welcomes the establishment on 20 November 2000 of the
Permanent Inter-Ministerial Standing Committee on Human Rights entrusted
with the mandate of monitoring and reviewing action taken by government
agencies concerning allegations of human rights violations as well as
follow up to recommendations made by United Nations human rights mechanisms.
326. The Committee welcomes the State party's readiness to cooperate with
United Nations human rights procedures and thematic mechanisms of the
Commission on Human Rights. The ratification on 3 October 1997 of the
Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights is also an encouraging step.
327. The Committee welcomes the statement by the Government that they
will continue to provide food and other kinds of relief to displaced and
other needy citizens.
328. The Committee notes with approval that on July 2001 media restrictions
were lifted. Thus, the system of requiring journalists to obtain permission
to visit all areas in the north and eastern provinces is no longer in
329. The Committee notes with appreciation that steps have been taken
to address human rights violations, in particular the appointment of three
Zonal Commissions of Inquiry to inquire into the disappearances of persons
from January 1988 to December 1990.
330. The Committee notes the Government's proposal for constitutional
reform which includes a devolution of power to regions, as well as its
willingness to come to a negotiated political solution leading to, inter
alia, the establishment of a regional legislative assembly enjoying
331. It also notes the work of the Ministry of Ethnic Affairs and National
Integration, responsible for implementing the Government's policy on ethnic
332. The Committee is concerned at the restrictions placed on civil and
political rights under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and Emergency Regulations
and their allegedly discriminatory application with regard to Tamils.
While commending the recent amendments to the Emergency Regulations, and
noting that the Emergency Regulations lapsed on 4 June 2001, the Committee
reiterates its concern, as expressed in previous concluding observations,
that a state of emergency has been intermittently in effect in different
parts of the country since 1983. The Committee hopes that the situation
in the country will improve so that the state of emergency can be lifted.
333. Concern is expressed about the situation of civilians living in the
north and east of the country, and particularly about those persons internally
displaced by the conflict. The Committee recommends that the State party
continue to provide assistance to the civilian population in the north
and eastern provinces and cooperate with humanitarian agencies.
334. The Committee is concerned at the fact that a large number of Tamils
of Indian origin, particularly plantation workers, and their descendants
have still not been granted citizenship and that many of them even continue
to be stateless. Tamils without Sri Lankan citizenship are allegedly discriminated
against and do not fully enjoy their economic, social and cultural rights.
The Committee recommends that early and effective measures be taken to
solve this problem and that these persons should not be threatened with
335. The situation of the country's indigenous people, the Veddas, and
the creation of a national park on their ancestral forestland is of concern.
In this context attention is drawn to the Committee's general recommendation
XXIII calling upon States parties to recognize and protect the rights
of indigenous peoples to own, develop, control and use their communal
lands, territories and resources.
336. Concerning allegations of violations of human rights, the Committee
reminds the State party of its obligation to conduct exhaustive and impartial
investigations into allegations of human rights violations involving racial
discrimination and bring to justice those responsible. The Committee recommends
that the State party continue to disseminate knowledge of human rights
instruments as well as international humanitarian law among security forces
and law enforcement officers.
337. The State party is invited in its next report to provide updated
information on the demographic composition of the population, including
in the north and east of the island and its breakdown by community, ethnic
group and gender. The Committee further recommends that the State party
review the categorization of ethnic groups in Sri Lanka.
338. The State party is further invited to provide information on the
following issues: (a) the content of the devolution regime for regions;
(b) the scope of restrictions on the movement of Tamils living in the
north and eastern provinces; (c) the situation of the Veddas; (d) measures
taken to solve the problem of stateless persons in Sri Lanka; (e) measures
taken to eliminate racial discrimination among Tamil and other minority
groups; (f) the application of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and Emergency
Regulations, particularly their application to Tamils and other ethnic
339. It is noted that the State party has not made the optional declaration
provided for in article 14 of the Convention, and the Committee recommends
that the possibility of such a declaration be considered.
340. The Committee recommends that the State party ratify the amendments
to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention, adopted on 15 January 1992
at the Fourteenth Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention.
341. The Committee recommends that the State party's reports be made readily
available to the public from the time they are submitted and that the
Committee's concluding observations on them be similarly publicized.
342. The Committee recommends that the State party submit its tenth periodic
report jointly with its eleventh periodic report, due on 20 March 2003,
and that it address all the points raised in the present observations.