GENEVA/COLOMBO (16 July 2019) ‑ UN Special Rapporteur Clément Nyaletsossi Voule will visit Sri Lanka from 18 to 26 July 2019 to assess rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the country.
“We have seen a commendable effort to expand civic space in Sri Lanka, the establishment of strong and independent institutions, and noticeable strides towards truth and reconciliation in the country,” Voule said. “I hope that my visit will aid in the further strengthening of public freedom, at a conjuncture where the country has had to face important challenges, including the recent and tragic Easter terrorist attacks.”
The Special Rapporteur will visit Colombo, along with provinces in the North, South and East of the country. During his nine-day visit, the expert will meet with Government officials, representatives of the judiciary, legislature, media, civil society and trade unions, as well as with the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. He will also meet representatives of the United Nations system and other international organisations, along with other stakeholders in the country.
Voule said he would assess a number of issues related to the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, including their intersection with the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, limitations placed on these rights in the context of counter-terrorism and emergency legislation, and the exercise of these rights in online spaces.
The Special Rapporteur will hold a press conference at 2:30 pm on 26 July at the United Nations Compound, 202-204 Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 00700, to present his preliminary observations. Access to the conference will be limited to journalists.
The independent expert will present a comprehensive report on his visit to the 44th session of the Human Rights Council in June 2020.
Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, from Togo, was appointed as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and association in March 2018. He is a legal expert and currently works in Geneva in the field of human rights. He is an associate researcher at the Geneva Academy of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. Prior to his appointment, he led the work of the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR). Mr. Voule also worked as Secretary General of the Togolese Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, as campaigning officer for the Coalition for the Togolese International Criminal Court and as Secretary General of the Amnesty International section in Togo. Since 2011, Mr. Voule has been an expert member of the Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights Violations of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.