HRW slams Sri Lanka for dodging questions on women’s rights

HRW slams Sri Lanka for dodging questions on women’s rights

March 3, 2017   12:15 pm

Human Rights Watch says that in sending an ‘unprepared’ delegation to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to answer obvious questions, the Sri Lankan government betrays “a lack of commitment” to women’s rights issues. 

“If there were any doubt where women’s issues rank in the Sri Lanka government’s list of priorities, it was laid to rest last week in Geneva,” HRW Asia Director Brad Adams said. 

When the Sri Lanka delegation appeared before the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee) on February 22, it should have been well-prepared for the occasion, he said. 

It was the country’s eighth periodic review, and the questions that the committee would raise were no mystery – the CEDAW Committee and Sri Lankan civil society groups have had steady dialogue with the government over their concerns.

“But the government delegation seemed incapable or unwilling to address any issues of substance regarding women’s rights: discriminatory marriage laws, land and livelihood concerns, and strengthening laws that protect women, to name just a few.” 

“Instead, the delegation fell back on platitudinous responses that existing laws were sufficient to meet the government’s obligations and that constitutional amendments now under consideration will address other issues,” he said in a statement issued on Friday (3).

Adams said that of particular concern was the delegation’s inability to answer questions related to the role women will play in current efforts to seek truth, justice, and reconciliation for the alleged human rights abuses committed during Sri Lanka’s 26-year-long civil war, which ended in 2009.

“In sending a delegation to the CEDAW Committee unprepared to answer obvious questions, the government betrays a lack of commitment to women’s rights issues.” 

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