Internationalised Mechanism Is The Only Way Forward In Sri Lanka

sri lanka

Sri Lanka’s unilateral withdrawal from Resolution 30/1 is a clear rejection of human rights and accountability and displays total disregard for UN, UNHRC, UNHRC Core Group, UN Member States and the International Community.

UN High Commissioner said:
“I move to our update on Sri Lanka,HRC/43/19assessing the progress made in implementing Human Rights Council resolution 30/1. I regret that the new Government has announced a very different approach to the commitments previously made in the resolution which risks setting back efforts to advance reconciliation, accountability and human rights.

“The fundamental problem remains that Sri Lanka has still not addressed impunity for past violations, nor undertaken the security sector reforms needed to address their drivers and enablers.  Systemic barriers that continue to exist within the criminal justice system remain an impediment to real justice. Domestic processes have consistently failed to deliver accountability in the past and I am not convinced the appointment of yet another Commission of Inquiry will advance this agenda. As a result, victims remain denied justice and Sri Lankans from all communities have no guarantee that past patterns of human rights violations will not recur. “I urge the Council to remain alert to this situation in terms of prevention and to explore all possible avenues for advancing accountability.”

International involvement is crucial for any accountability process in Sri Lanka to have credibility and obtain a measure of justice for the victims. But under the current administration, victims have no realistic options beyond the Human Rights Council. Instead of placing faith in empty government promises, the Core Group should be leading the call for the council to create an international justice mechanism.

Statement by former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein via video link to the Human Rights Council on 30 September 2015

“State’s security sector and justice system have been distorted and corrupted by decades of impunity. The independence and integrity of key institutions such as the Attorney General’s Office and the Human Rights Commission remain compromised. The security forces, police and intelligence services have enjoyed near total impunity and have not undergone any significant reform since the armed conflict. A full-fledged vetting process should be designed to remove from office security forces personnel and public officials suspected of involvement in human rights violations.”.

It is very important to note that the Core Group should take the following stand to find justice to the oppressed Tamil victims of war in Sri Lanka

[ A ] Create an international accountability mechanism as a matter of urgency.

[ b} There is no prospect that yet another domestic commission will advance justice for the tens of thousands summarily executed, tortured or forcibly disappeared.,

Given the UN’s self-identified “systemic failure” to protect the Tamil people, it is necessary for the international community to ensure justice is served. Sri Lanka is clearly unwilling to investigate and prosecute atrocity crimes against the Tamil people. The UN Security Council should take decisive action and refer the situation in Sri Lanka, as it did for Darfur and Libya, to the International Criminal Court or establish an ad hoc international criminal tribunal to focus specifically on atrocity crimes on the island.

“The establishment of the Office of Missing Persons in the face of the declaration by former Prime Minister Wickremesinghe that most of the disappeared are dead is an illustration how the Sri Lankan state used transitional justice to deceive the UNHRC and the greater international community

Sri Lanka: Families of ‘Disappeared’ Threatened
Rajapaksa Government Should Uphold Commitments to UN Rights Council

“The families of Sri Lanka’s ‘disappeared’ have spent years waiting for answers, but with the Rajapaksas back in power, security forces are threatening them to drop their demands for truth and accountability,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director. “The government needs to stop the harassment immediately and abide by Sri Lanka’s pledges to the UN to uncover the fate of the ‘disappeared’ and provide justice to victims’ families.”

“Family members of Sri Lanka’s many ‘disappeared’ have a right to know what happened to their loved ones,” Ganguly said. “The UN Human Rights Council is the one flicker of hope many families have that the fate of those disappeared will one day be known, and that justice will be done.”
Joint Oral Statement: 43rd session of the Human Rights Council Item 2: General Debate on reports and oral updates of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General
We urge this Council to hold Sri Lanka accountable to its obligations under international law. Given this week’s announcement that the new Government will not continue to engage with the clear framework agreed through resolution 30/1; the failure of past domestic reconciliation and accountability mechanisms; and the ongoing compromise of the rule of law as pointed out by the High Commissioner yesterday, we call on the Council to establish an international accountability mechanism on Sri Lanka.

ICJ calls for purely international accountability process as only remaining option on Sri Lanka

“If the Government seeks now to abandon even that compromise, purely international processes, whether before the ICC or through creation of another international accountability mechanism by the Council, and the exercise of universal jurisdiction by other States, are the only remaining options for securing the justice required by international law and indispensable to any credible reconciliation process for Sri Lanka.”

Thierry Mathou, director of Asia and Oceania for the French Foreign Ministry, speaks to reporters in Colombo.

 France Thursday asked Sri Lanka to end impunity and ensure ethnic reconciliation a day after Colombo withdrew from a United Nations resolution investigating alleged atrocities during its decades-long separatist war.

A top French diplomat said Colombo could not wish away the 2015 Human Rights Council resolution which the previous Sri Lankan administration co-sponsored with the unanimous support of UN’s rights body.

“Sri Lanka’s decision to withdraw from the co-sponsorship of the resolution does not mean that the resolution has disappeared. The resolution is still on the table.
“It is legally binding. The objective is still there. Reconciliation has to be a key priority,” Thierry Mathou, director of Asia and Oceania for the French Foreign Ministry told reporters in Colombo after talks with local leaders.

At least 100,000 people were killed in Sri Lanka’s drawn out Tamil separatist war which ended in May 2009.

“We have heard and read that economic development will lead to reconciliation (in Sri Lanka). I tend to say that in order to reach economic development, you have to get reconciliation. So, the fight against impunity is obviously an important objective.”

Tamil families of disappeared call for UN action on Sri Lanka
Tamil families of the disappeared continued their protests in Mannar last week, with a rally calling on the United Nations to ensure justice was delivered and the fate of their loved ones is determined.

‘Core Group should lead call for international justice mechanism for Sri Lanka’ – John Fisher

The Geneva Director of Human Rights Watch urged on the Core Group of countries at the United Nations Human Rights Council to lead the call for an international justice mechanism on Sri Lanka “instead of placing faith in empty government promises”.

In a post published this morning, John Fisher said that “it was particularly disappointing that the UN Core Group on Sri Lanka – including the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, North Macedonia, and Montenegro – did not stand by the numerous victims of abuses by calling for renewed Human Rights Council action”.

“In its statement, the Core Group merely “encourage[d] the government of Sri Lanka to continue cooperation and dialogue” – a naïve appeal in the face of the Sri Lankan government’s explicit repudiation of its commitments,” he added.

Fisher went on to state that Sri Lanka’s president Gotabaya Rajapaksa “has repeatedly made clear his government was not going to punish members of the security forces accused of war crimes, and has already stalled pending investigations”.

“International involvement is crucial for any accountability process in Sri Lanka to have credibility and obtain a measure of justice for the victims,” he said. “But under the current administration, victims have no realistic options beyond the Human Rights Council. Instead of placing faith in empty government promises, the Core Group should be leading the call for the council to create an international justice mechanism.”

The government has indicated that it is not going to do anything that is not acceptable to the Sinhalese people

Kumarathasan Rasingam – Secretary, The Tamil Canadian Elders for Human Rights Org.




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