Incidents of societal abuses or discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice were reported in Sri Lanka last year, the United States said on Monday.
In its annual International Religious Freedom Report for 2011, the State Department said sporadic attacks on Christian churches by Buddhist extremists and some societal tension due to ongoing allegations of forced or deceitful conversions continued.
However, the number and scale of attacks were reportedly fewer than in recent years, it said.
The State Department also stated that although the constitution and other laws and policies protect religious freedom in Sri Lanka and, in practice, the government generally respected religious freedom, it did not demonstrate a trend toward either “improvement or deterioration” in respect for and protection of the right to religious freedom.
“U.S. embassy officials conveyed U.S. government concerns about religious freedom issues, particularly attacks on churches, to government leaders and urged them to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators.”
Pointing out that there were reports of abuses of religious freedom in the island nation, the report alleged that although the government publicly endorsed religious freedom, in practice there were problems in some areas.
“While the number of attacks against Christians continued to decline and efforts to pass anti-conversion legislation reportedly declined, some Christian groups occasionally complained that the government tacitly condoned harassment and violence aimed at them,” states the State Department report on religious freedom in the world.
“There also were reports of government troops setting up Buddhist shrines in Tamil areas of the north, with some Tamil groups claiming this was a sign of government-sponsored Sinhalese colonization of former LTTE-held areas,” added the report released by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“For the United States, of course, religious freedom is a cherished constitutional value, a strategic national interest, and a foreign policy priority,” she remarked at the Release of the 2011 International Religious Freedom Report in Washington
Courtesy: Ada Derana