Date:  March 27, 2021

Multi-Faith letter calls on the PM of Sri Lanka to abandon the introduction of anti-conversion laws known to “restrict legitimate religious freedom and target religious minorities.”

WASHINGTON DC | Jubilee Campaign joins over 20 NGOs calling on Sri Lanka to drop the re-introduction of the anti-conversion law

Following the recent report that the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious, and Cultural Affairs is currently drafting a legal framework for the implementation of anti-conversion laws, the multi-faith International Religious Freedom Roundtable sent out a letter, containing 36 signatures, on Monday March 22, calling on the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka to abandon the planned introduction of the anti-conversion law.

The letter recognizes the value of each individual’s freedom to follow their conscience and denounces any conversions obtained by force and violence but notes that anti-conversion laws often go beyond this. They are frequently written in a way that is “overbroad and ambiguous” enabling accusations against religious groups, largely minorities, based on mere worship, sharing one’s faith, and performing charitable works; this emboldens intolerant groups to harass and persecute marginalized faith groups.

The letter cites international human rights law and UN experts on the topic who agree that anti-conversion laws often encourage false accusations and arrests of minority populations and emboldens violent actors.

The letter calls on the government of Sri Lanka to:

  • Abandon the introduction of an anti-conversion law.
  • Ensure that all religious minorities are able to practice their religion or belief freely and without discrimination.
  • Promote tolerance between religions by upholding Articles 10 and 14 of the Sri Lankan Constitution, and Article 18 of the ICCPR, including the freedom to adopt or leave a religion or belief.
  • Introduce religious freedom roundtables for religious leaders to discuss the issues affecting their communities in an open, free, cooperative and constructive manner.