Delivering the opening statement of the UN Human Rights Council 36th session in Geneva on Monday (11), UN rights chief called upon the government to act on its commitment in Resolution 30/1 to establish transitional justice mechanisms, and to establish a clear timeline and benchmarks for the implementation of these and other commitments.
“This should not be viewed by the Government as a box-ticking exercise to placate the Council, but as an essential undertaking to address the rights of all its people,” he added.
Nationalist forces led by the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa have accused the government of committing itself to address accountability as one “dictated by foreign masters”.
In the resolution 30/1 adopted unanimously by the rights body in 2015, Sri Lanka has committed itself to establish several transitional justice mechanisms to address the tens of thousands affected by the country’s bloody war.
“I urge the Government to swiftly operationalize the Office of Missing Persons and to move faster on other essential confidence building measures, such as release of land occupied by the military, and resolving long-pending cases registered under the Prevention of Terrorism Act,” said Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“I repeat my request for that Act to be replaced with a new law in line with international human rights standards.”
The high commissioner noted that mass protests by Tamil victims in the north are continuing for over six months indicating “their growing frustration over the slow pace of reforms”.
“The absence of credible action in Sri Lanka to ensure accountability for alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law makes the exercise of universal jurisdiction even more necessary,” he warned.
(By Kithsiri Wijesinghe – jdslanka.org)