Sri lanka Urged to Stop Compulsory Cremation of Covid-19 Dead Bodies

    Wahyu Dwi Anggoro - 26 January 2021 08:46 WIB
    Sri lanka Urged to Stop Compulsory Cremation of Covid-19 Dead Bodies
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    Jakarta: United Nations (UN) human rights experts have urged the Sri Lankan Government to end its policy of compulsory cremation of the covid-19 deceased.

    In a joint appeal issued on Monday, Special Rapporteurs Ahmed Shaheed, Fernand de Varennes, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, and Tlaleng Mofokeng said that the practice ran contrary to the beliefs of Muslims and other minorities.

    Moreover, they warned that it could foment existing prejudices, intolerance and violence.

    "The imposition of cremation as the only option for handling the bodies confirmed or suspected of covid-19 amounts to a human rights violation," said the experts.

    "There has been no established medical or scientific evidence in Sri Lanka or other countries that burial of dead bodies leads to increased risk of spreading communicable diseases such as covid-19," they added.

    As of January 21, 2021, 274 covid-19 related deaths have been reported in Sri Lanka, with a significant number of the deaths belonging to Muslim minorities. 

    All of the bodies were cremated according to the fourth amendment of the Provisional Clinical Practice Guidelines on covid-19 suspected and confirmed patients issued on March 31, 2020.

    The decision to make cremation mandatory followed alleged expert advice, including by the chief epidemiologist who claimed that burials could contaminate ground drinking water. 

    However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reiterated there is no evidence to suggest that cremation prevents the spread of the disease, while the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka Medical Association issued statements recently clarifying that there has been no proof that burial of covid-19 dead bodies constitutes a public health hazard.


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