Wednesday, February 21, 2018 06:10:16 PM

Minister Threatens Defender of Minority Rights

By Human Rights Watch - Mon Jun 19, 8:45 pm

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A Muslim boy prays on the first Friday prayers of the holy month of Ramadan at a mosque in Colombo, Sri Lanka June 2, 2017.

© 2017 Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte

(New York) – The Sri Lankan government should immediately repudiate statements by the country’s justice minister threatening to disbar a prominent lawyer for speaking out against attacks on religious minorities, Human Rights Watch said today. The incident highlights the government’s failure to fully investigate and prosecute recent attacks on Muslims and Christians in the Buddhist-majority country.

On June 17, 2017, Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe threatened to “take necessary steps to remove Mr. Lakshan Dias from the legal profession” unless Dias apologized for remarks on a television program three days earlier about attacks on the Christian community. Dias had cited a report by church groups that there were nearly 200 attacks and other harassment against Christians and their places of worship since 2015. The government of President Maithripala Sirisena, which took office in January 2015, has failed to meet its pledge to protect the rights of religious minorities, Human Rights Watch said.

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