UNHRC urged to push Sri Lanka on human rights

Colombo, Feb 25 (IANS) The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has been urged to push Sri Lanka to develop a timetable for implementing the recommendations made in 2015 on fully restoring human rights in the country.

In a letter to the Permanent Missions in Geneva, Human Rights Watch (HRW) sought support in ensuring that the upcoming consideration of Sri Lanka’s progress towards implementing its commitments under UNHRC resolution 30/1 accurately and substantively reflects the situation within the country, Colombo Gazette online newspaper reported on Saturday.

HRW noted that the resolution, adopted by the Council in October 2015 through consensus, contains 25 key undertakings by the Sri Lankan government across a range of human rights issues.

A key element of the resolution consisted of transitional justice promises: a special court including international judges and prosecutors to try cases of war crimes by all parties to the conflict, an office on missing and disappeared persons, a truth-seeking and reconciliation mechanism, and a reparations mechanism.

HRW said that it remains concerned as the Sri Lankan government had made only halting progress towards fulfilling these commitments.

A hastily drafted and passed law to establish an Office of Missing Persons was done without thorough consultation of key stakeholders, and the office has yet to be set up. The three other promised mechanisms have not made significant progress.

HRW said an additional note of concern on Sri Lanka’s progress on transitional justice is its ongoing resistance to any foreign involvement in the four mechanisms, according to the report.

This directly contravened the call by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for a “hybrid” justice mechanism given the shortcomings of domestic institutions to ensure impartial investigations and witness protection, and the Sri Lankan government’s failure to take meaningful accountability measures since Sri Lanka’s civil war ended in May

2009.

In addition to the lack of progress on the transitional justice mechanisms, according to the report, Sri Lanka has not implemented many of the other undertakings from the resolution. Security sector reform, including repealing and replacing the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act, has not yet been undertaken.

HRW said it is imperative that the Council remain fully engaged with the process until the commitments Sri Lanka made to the Council and UN member states and its own people through its co-sponsorship of resolution 30/1 are fully met.

–IANS

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