Colombo issued Gazette banning burials amidst objections raised by UN Rapporteurs

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 14 April 2020, 22:19 GMT]
The SL State seems to have gone ahead with an extraordinary Gazette notification instructing the health authorities to cremate the corpses of all persons who have died of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) on 11 April, ignoring a joint letter from four UN Special Rapporteurs dated 08 April. The Special Rapporteurs were urging the SL President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to reconsider the SL Ministry of Health Guidelines that had been modified on 31 March banning the burial of the corpses of dead COVID-19 suspected and confirmed patients in the island. They were seeking five clarifications from the SL President, including whether the SL authorities had any consultation with health experts, civil society and community members before to make sure that the instruction was non-discriminatory, necessary and proportionate to the objective pursued.

The UN Rapporteurs were also seeking information on the steps taken to tackle the potential rise in hate speech against Muslims and other ethnic or religious minorities, including by protecting the identity of the COVID-19 patients or deceased.

They were concerned that the amendment of the SL MoH Guideline was inconsistent with the Infection Prevention and Control for the safe management of a dead body in the context of COVID-19 guideline provided by World Health Organisation (WHO).

Ahmed Shaheed, the special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Dainius Puras, the special rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Fernand de Varennes, the special rapporteur on minority issues and Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, had written the joint letter to SL President.





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