Double trouble for Sri Lanka in Geneva following Kandy violence

13 - March - 2018 | 206 Views | Share

Sri Lanka faces twin pressure at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) currently meeting in Geneva as a result of the violence in Kandy.

The Council commented on the situation in Kandy last week and is expected to raise the matter further this week and next week.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, delivering his annual report and oral update in Geneva last week at the 37th session of the UNHRC, said that he was alarmed by the mob violence in Sri Lanka targeting ethnic and religious minorities, particularly Muslims.

“In Sri Lanka, I am very alarmed by recurring and continuing episodes of mob violence targeting ethnic and religious minorities, particularly Muslims, including most recently in Ampara and in several locations in the Kandy district, leading to the declaration of a nationwide state of emergency for 10 days. There should be no impunity, either for the incitement that led to the attacks, or the attacks themselves. I have repeatedly urged the Government to advance its implementation of the transitional justice agenda. I regret the absence of meaningful progress. It is urgent for the sake of the victims that progress be made on accountability and transitional justice. In the absence of such progress I would encourage Member States to explore the use of universal jurisdiction,” he said.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is to discuss Sri Lanka in full on 21 March when Sri Lanka will make a statement.

Speaking after the High Commissioner delivered his annual report, the British delegation in Geneva said it shares the concerns about recent inter-communal violence in Sri Lanka.

“We support the Government’s determination to end it swiftly, using measures that are proportionate and respect human rights, and urge it to hold the perpetrators to account,” Britain said.

Sri Lanka is already under pressure to deliver on its promises to ensure justice for the victims of the war, including those missing.

Several informal meetings and briefings were held on Sri Lanka in Geneva last week where the issue on the disappearances reported during and after the war were discussed.

This week, the report on Sri Lanka by the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review will be discussed.

The review of Sri Lanka was held at the 16th meeting in November last year. The delegation of Sri Lanka was headed by Minister Harsha de Silva.

In its report the Working Group had concluded that Sri Lanka must end impunity and ensure that perpetrators of incitement to hatred and violence are brought to justice in compliance with international law.

Sri Lanka was also urged to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act and enforce an immediate moratorium on its use and ensure that the draft Counter-Terrorism Act is compliant with international human rights standards.

Sri Lanka had also been urged to take comprehensive measures to ensure that the alleged war crimes and other human rights violations committed during the internal conflict are investigated and prosecuted, with the aim of ending impunity, expedite the ongoing process and establish a clear timeline to establish a truth-seeking commission and an Office on Reparations as well as a special court to investigate allegations of serious human rights violations.

The Government was also urged to develop a clear timeline and benchmarks for the full implementation of Sri Lanka’s commitments under Human Rights Council resolution 30/1, fully implement the recommendations of the Consultative Task Force on Reconciliation, adopt a national policy on the protection of journalists and human rights defenders to combat intimidation and violence, and to ensure effective investigation of such acts and prosecution of perpetrators, consider a large-scale transfer of land for civilian use in the northern and eastern provinces of the country and strengthen measures to eliminate all forms of violence against women, inter alia by criminalizing marital rape.

It was noted in the report that all conclusions and/or recommendations reflect the position of the submitting state(s) and/or the state under review and should not be construed as endorsed by the Working Group as a whole.

Sri Lanka, on its part gave an assurance to fulfil commitments contained in Human Rights Council resolution 30/1 towards the operationalization of the Office on Missing Persons, and the establishment of a truthseeking commission, an office for reparations, and a judicial mechanism with a special counsel.

As mentioned in the report, Sri Lanka had also given an undertaking to ensure, and strengthen, respect for the fundamental rights of all persons, including those from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer community, and address concerns raised in that regard.

Sri Lanka said that it will also review and repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and replace it with new counterterrorism legislation compliant with international human rights standards.

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