To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, with reference to reports of the forced cremation of covid-19 victims in Sri Lanka, what representations he has made to his Sri Lankan counterpart on the protection of religious beliefs and freedoms.
This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.
11 January 2021
The UK Government is concerned about the Government of Sri Lanka's continued decision to mandate cremations for all those affected by Covid-19, and recognises the particular impact this is having on Sri Lankan Muslims and other faith communities. The Minister of State for South Asia and Minister responsible for Human Rights, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon, has raised concerns about this directly with the Sri Lankan High Commissioner, most recently in December. Lord Ahmad also raised the importance of minority rights in a call with the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena in November. The UK's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka has also raised concerns about mandatory cremations several times with the Sri Lankan Government, most recently in January.
The UK has shared guidance with the Government of Sri Lanka on how burials can continue to operate in a safe format, within the WHO guidelines, to ensure all religious groups can practise their rites. We will continue to engage with the Government of Sri Lanka on this important issue.