Part 2: Circular 2008
CSW spoke to a human rights advocate in Sri Lanka whose identity for security reasons has been withheld. This post has been edited for clarity.
Q: Would you be able to share with us what groups like yours – and other civil society organisations based in Sri Lanka – are doing at the moment to address freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) violations?
A: There are various strategies. One of the core things that we do is to document incidents. We do a lot of advocacy at a local level by meeting government officials and ministers. We also lobby with some of our international partners as well. We file cases on behalf of victims who are religious minorities, and we take up different legal interventions. For example, when there is an attack, we will not file a case immediately but we try first to send out legal letters; working with the national police commission, working with the relevant ministries, and so on. If that does not work out, then of course we will file a case against the authorities in the Supreme Court.
In most instances, we support cases that have been filed against Christians. We also do a lot of other projects where we work on broader human rights issues and we form local networks with community leaders, with pastors. We have consultation processes with them, we train them, we have advocacy seminars – making them aware of their legal rights and teaching them good practices. We also work with the media and journalists, bringing together journalists and the media on good reporting for religious violence.
Q: What can international organisations do to echo the concerns you’ve identified?