UN rights chief regrets Sri Lanka withdrawal from resolution

UN

Feb 28, 2020 (LBO) – The United Nations’ human rights chief expressed regret on Sri Lankan government’s decision to withdraw its co-sponsorship of a 2015 resolution backing an investigation into alleged human rights violations during the island’s civil war, Thursday.

Michelle Bachelet addresssing the U.N. Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva said that the decision risks setting back efforts for postwar reconciliation.

She says the State must work for all its people, and the needs of all communities, particularly the minorities, must be acknowledged and addressed.

“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.”

She said systemic problems with the criminal justice system remain an impediment to real justice.

Sri Lanka co-sponsored a resolution in 2015 along with 11 other countries, including the United States, Britain, Australia and Germany, calling for an investigation into the alleged rights violations by both government forces and the now-defeated ethnic Tamil rebels in the island’s civil war, which ended in 2009.

The resolution also called for providing answers on the fate of thousands who reportedly went missing in the war and obtaining the support of international prosecutors and judges in trials against alleged perpetrators.

“I urge the Government to preserve and build upon the gains which have been made over the last few years,@

‘I encourage the Government to ensure the Office on Missing Persons and the Office of Reparations are provided with political and resource support.’

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on Wednesday announced the country’s formal withdrawal from the resolution.

“Constitutionally, the resolution seeks to cast upon Sri Lanka obligations that cannot be carried out within its constitutional framework and it infringes the sovereignty of the people of Sri Lanka and violates the basic structure of the constitution,” Gunawardena said.

He said Sri Lanka would address accountability issues on its own and plans to appoint a new commission to review the reports of past commissions and assess their recommendations.