“Tactical abstention: On the U.N. Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka”

“Tactical abstention: On the U.N. Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka”

March 25th 2021

By abstaining from the vote on the U.N. Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka, India has signalled its unwillingness to upset its neighbour. At the same time, it does not want to be seen as ignoring Sri Lanka’s reluctance to meet the political aspirations of the Tamils or endorsing the country’s stubborn refusal to ensure any sort of accountability for its war-time past.

It may be easy for the political opposition to dismiss India’s abstention as showing an intent to shield Sri Lanka from a credible investigation into allegations of war crimes. A more reasonable assessment would be that India seems to have utilised the opportunity to preserve its diplomatic space and to contain the pervasive influence of China over Sri Lanka even while maintaining its support for the Tamil minority to achieve equality, justice, dignity and peace.

India has not been comfortable with externally mandated investigative mechanisms. Even when it voted in 2012 in favour of a credible investigation into human rights, India had got the resolution to incorporate the need for Sri Lanka’s ‘concurrence’ to any assistance that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights may offer in such a probe.

In this session and just ahead of the vote, India stressed on both meaningful devolution to meet Tamil aspirations and the unity and integrity of Sri Lanka — aspects that it believes are not an ‘either-or’ choice.

The resolution comes amidst disturbing signs that Sri Lanka is regressing into the days of democratic deficit seen prior to the 2015 elections.

Unfortunately, the present regime withdrew from the commitments made to the UNHRC by its predecessor on constructive engagement with the international community, and the consensual resolution on justice and accountability.

The UN High Commissioner’s report raises concern over increasing militarisation, heightened surveillance against rights defenders and NGOs, interference with the few prosecutions in emblematic cases from the past, and the dangerous anti-minority rhetoric.

India’s concerns in Sri Lanka have always been different from the rest of the international community, informed by a sense of the long-term well-being of the Tamils, and that power-sharing does foster reconciliation. Hence its emphasis on devolution rather than accountability. It is clear that India has its own limitations in expressing disappointment over the island nation’s move away from reconciliation and devolution.

It continues to be weighed down by the Chinese presence in the region. Even the need to be in accord with sentiment in Tamil Nadu in the midst of an election was not motivation enough for India to change its position from tactical neutrality to one of open support for the resolution. When pragmatism and principle were needed in equal measure, the Centre seems to have chosen abstention as an easy way out.

Courtesy: The Hindu

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By abstaining on UNHRC’s Sri Lanka resolution, India pulled off a balancing act

By Anand Vardhan

25 Mar, 2021

By abstaining on UNHRC’s Sri Lanka resolution, India pulled off a balancing act

The speculative build-up to India’s vote on United Nations Human Rights Council, or UNHRC, resolution on Sri Lanka was hinged on the possibilities of India facing the challenge of the delicate handling of twin issues: satisfying the domestic Tamil community, more so in the election season, and retaining the diplomatic space as it seeks to reset its South Asia strategy in the wake of current dynamics.

The resolution, the seventh since the Sri Lankan government- Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, the war ended in 2009, called for fixing accountability for war crimes and rights violations by the authorities as well as the implementation of the 13th amendment on power devolution.

Earlier this week, India decided to abstain from the vote at the UNHRC’s 46th session in Geneva, and in many ways, the move to opt-out was one of the markedly tactical options available to India while it tries to walk the tightrope on the issue.

Even though the resolution was adopted with the support of 22 countries in the 47-member body, India would heave a sigh of relief that by choosing to abstain, it managed to avoid ruffling the feathers of both the incumbent Sri Lankan government as well as Tamil National Alliance, or TNA, the largest political group representing Tamil interests in the north and east of Sri Lanka.

It’s relevant to remember that both the Sri Lankan government and the TNA, hoping for opposite outcomes, had expressed confidence that India would support their respective positions on the resolution.

While the state-run Daily News had reported Sri Lanka’s foreign secretary Jayanth Colombage’s statement about India’s assurance of voting against the resolution at UNHRC, the TNA spokesperson and Jaffna legislator MA Sumanthiran had also sounded very hopeful about India endorsing the resolution. However, even an abstention was seen in a favourable light by both sides, and that’s where India could claim its position being understood by two different stakeholders. While foreign minister Dinesh Gunawardena tweeted gratitude to the abstaining countries including India, the response of the TNA had a tone of understanding as well. Taking note of factors that India might have considered before deciding to abstain, TNA found comfort in India’s pre-vote statement which sought to balance the concerns of both sides. “We are greatly encouraged by India’s statement ahead of the vote,” The Hindu quoted TNA spokesperson as saying.

In careful wording of its balancing act in the days leading to the UNHRC vote, India had maintained that heeding to interests of the Tamil community and the Sri Lankan government need not be mutually exclusive. “There are no either-or choices,” India’s permanent representative Indra Mani Pandey asserted. The Indian diplomat went on to elaborate that India’s consistent position has rested on two pillars of commitment to Tamil aspirations for “equality, justice, peace and dignity” and support to Sri Lanka’s “unity and territorial integrity”. The Indian delegation also called for the implementation of the 13th amendment, which requires power devolution. Pawan Badhe, the first secretary in India’s Permanent Mission, emphasized India’s view that both the objectives are “mutually supportive”.

It was expected that some political parties in Tamil Nadu like DMK and MDMK, with adversarial relations with the ruling party at the centre, wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than India’s vocal support for the resolution. By dubbing the abstention as “betrayal of Eelam Tamils” the DMK chief M K Stalin responded on predictable lines. But, the comforting sign for India is that TNA’s response has been more understanding and hasn’t provided notes of grievance to their political sympathizers in Tamil Nadu.

Another predictable response has come from the Sri Lankan government which has rejected the resolution as “politically motivated” and as an instance of interference with the country’s sovereignty. The Mahinda Rajapaksa government was quick to dismiss the resolution as a non-starter because without the ‘consent and acceptance by the country concerned it can’t be implemented. The last three resolutions were co-sponsored by Sri Lanka, and hence, didn’t need to vote while the first three resolutions, in 2009, 2012, and 2013, respectively, were supported by India. In 2014, India abstained from voting. However, while even supporting the resolution in 2012 that called for an investigation into human rights record, India, as an editorial comment in The Hindu recalled, “had got the resolution to incorporate the need for Sri Lanka’s concurrence to any assistance that the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights may offer in such a probe”.

In the last few years, the intrusion of the China factor into India-Sri Lanka ties has made the diplomatic turf more delicate for New Delhi when it comes to dealing with Colombo. While China had extended its support for the Sri Lankan government position on the resolution well in advance, India couldn’t allow the diplomatic space further drift in its dealing with its island neighbour in the south. Even if an unequivocal “no” from China put in the list of 11 countries that Sri Lanka marked for special mention as “solid support’’, the fact that the foreign minister thanked India for abstaining seems an acknowledgement that India would settle forgiven its predicament. The immediate diplomatic goal for India is to make sure that a reset of its bilateral ties with neighbours is done as a damage-control of the slippage that let the Chinese foot in the strategic door. In addition to the usual strategic concerns of encirclement and string of pearls, India has noted with caution the special projects in the island country that have contributed to China gaining a degree of strategic sway.

In December 2017, for instance, struggling to pay the debt, the Sri Lankan government handed over the Hambantota Port and 15,000 acres of land around it for 99 years to China. It did raise deep concerns in India because, as The New York Times noted then: “The transfer gave China control of territory just a few hundred miles off the shores of a rival, India, and a strategic foothold along a critical commercial and military waterway.” Even though the claims of it being a prime example of China’s use of debt-diplomacy has been contested, India is profoundly conscious of the new terms of engagement and competitors in its relations with Sri Lanka. While Colombo acknowledges India’s powerful status in the region, the Sri Lankan foreign secretary even calling India “the superpower they are”, it knows that the island country’s diplomatic choices have widened. However, Colombo can’t afford to lose sight of the costs of the increasingly hegemonic designs of Beijing in the region either.

In its attempt to find the tactical equilibrium between the domestic constituency and refusal to yield diplomatic space in the neighbourhood, India’s abstention at the UNHRC vote on Sri Lanka always looked more plausible of the options. In the process, New Delhi has also managed to tie two ends of realpolitik in the garb of principled positions. As China seeks widening of its strategic heft in India’s vicinity, India may need more such moves in making itself diplomatically attractive for its neighbours.

https://www.newslaundry.com/2021/03/25/by-abstaining-on-unhrcs-sri-lanka-resolution-india-pulled-off-a-balancing-act


இலங்கை போரில் தமிழீழ விடுதலை புலிகள், அரசு படைகளின் மனித உரிமை மீறல்கள்: ஐ.நா-வில் புதிய தீர்மானம்
  • அன்பரசன் எத்திராஜன்
  • பிபிசி

23 பிப்ரவரி 2021

இலங்கை போரில் மனித உரிமை மீறல்கள்: ஐ.நாவில் புதிய தீர்மானம் கோரும் நாடுகள்
படக்குறிப்பு,காணாமல் போன தங்கள் உறவினர்கள் பற்றி இன்னும் பல தமிழர்களுக்கு தகவல் எதுவும் இல்லை

இலங்கையில் 26 ஆண்டு காலமாக நடந்த கொடூரமான உள்நாட்டுப் போரில் மனித உரிமை மீறல்களில் ஈடுபட்டவர்களை பொறுப்பேற்கச் செய்து, பாதிக்கப்பட்டவர்களுக்கு நீதி வழங்க வேண்டும் என, ஐக்கிய நாடுகள் மனித உரிமைகள் ஆணையத்தில் கொண்டு வரப்பட்டுள்ள புதிய தீர்மானத்தை எதிர்கொள்கிறது இலங்கை அரசு. பிரிட்டன் உள்ளிட்ட நாடுகள், இந்த தீர்மானத்தின் வரைவை வெளியிட்டுள்ளன.

இந்த வரைவு, ஐக்கிய நாடுகள் மனித உரிமைகள் ஆணையத்தின் நான்கு வார வசந்த கால கூட்டத் தொடரின் இறுதியில் விவாதத்துக்கு எடுத்துக்கொள்ளப்படும் என எதிர்பார்க்கப்படுகிறது. இந்த வசந்த கால கூட்டத் தொடர் திங்கட்கிழமை முதல் ஜெனீவாவில் தொடங்கியுள்ளது.

இலங்கையில் நடந்த போரில் இலங்கை அரசுப் படை மற்றும் தமிழீழ விடுதலைப் புலிகள் அமைப்பு என இரு தரப்பினரும் மோசமான அடாவடிச் செயல்களில் ஈடுபட்டதாகக் குற்றம் சுமத்தப்படுகிறது. இப்போரில் குறைந்தபட்சம் 1,00,000 பேர் கொல்லப்பட்டனர்.

“இலங்கை உள்நாட்டுப் போரால் பாதிக்கப்பட்டவர்கள் அனைத்து சமூகத்தவர்களும், தங்கள் அன்பிற்குரியவர்களுக்கு நீதி கிடைக்க வேண்டுமெனக் காத்திருக்கிறார்கள். போரினால் ஏற்பட்ட பின்விளைவுகளையும், முரண்களையும் எதிர்கொண்டு வருகிறார்கள்” என பிரிட்டனின் தெற்காசிய மற்றும் காமன்வெல்த் நாடுகளுக்கான இணை அமைச்சர் லார்ட் அஹ்மத் கூறியுள்ளார்.

ஜெர்மனி, கனடா உள்ளிட்ட ஆறு நாடுகள், இலங்கை மீதான பிரிட்டனின் முன்னெடுப்பின் முக்கிய நாடுகளாக இருக்கின்றன.

இலங்கையில் உள்ள எல்லா இனக் குழு மற்றும் பல்வேறு நம்பிக்கை கொண்ட குழுவினர் அமைதியாகவும், சமாதானத்தோடு நல்லிணக்கமாகவும் வாழ இந்தத் தீர்மானம் ஒரு முக்கிய முன்னெடுப்பு எனக் கூறினார் லார்ட் அஹ்மத்.

இலங்கை அரசு மற்றும் விடுதலைப் புலிகளுக்கு இடையில் நடந்த இறுதிக் கட்டப் போரில், இலங்கை அரசு விடுதலைப் புலிகளை நசுக்கிவிட்டது. போரின் இறுதிக் கட்டத்தில் 40,000-க்கும் மேற்பட்டவர்கள் கொல்லப்பட்டதாக ஐ.நா மற்றும் பிற தொண்டூழிய அமைப்புகள் மதிப்பிடுகின்றன.

இதில் தமிழ் சமூகத்தைச் சேர்ந்தவர்கள் அதிகம் எனவும் குறிப்பிடப்பட்டிருக்கிறது. இப்போரில் இலங்கை அரசு மற்றும் விடுதலைப் புலிகள் என இரண்டு தரப்புமே மோசமான அடாவடிச் செயல்களில் ஈடுபட்டதாக ஐ.நா மனித உரிமைகள் ஆணையம் குற்றம் சுமத்தி இருக்கிறது.

இலங்கை போரில் மனித உரிமை மீறல்கள்: ஐ.நாவில் புதிய தீர்மானம் கோரும் நாடுகள்
படக்குறிப்பு,இறுதிப்போரின்போது சுமார் 1,50,000 பேர் கடலோரப் பகுதிகளில் சிக்கியிருந்ததாக கணிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.

பல்லாயிரக் கணக்கானோர் இந்தப் போர் காலத்தில் காணாமல் போய்விட்டனர். இலங்கை அரசுக்கு எதிராகப் போராடிய தமிழ் மக்கள், இலங்கையிடம் சரணடைந்தவர்கள் அல்லது பிடிபட்டவர்கள் காணாமல் போனதற்கு, இலங்கை அரசுப் படையினர் மீது குறை கூறப்பட்டது.

அப்போதிலிருந்து, கொல்லப்பட்ட அல்லது காணாமல் போன தமிழர்களின் குடும்பம் நீதிகேட்டும், சம்பந்தப்பட்டவர்கள் பொறுப்பேற்க வேண்டும் எனவும் கோரி வருகிறார்கள். ஆனால் இலங்கை அரசோ தமிழ் மக்கள் காணாமல் போனதற்கு, தான் பொறுப்பல்ல என தன் மீதான குற்றச்சாட்டுகளைத் தொடர்ந்து மறுக்கிறது.

சர்வதேச அளவிலான அழுத்தத்தினால், கடந்த 2015-ம் ஆண்டு போர் குற்றம் மற்றும் விதிமீறல்களை, வெளிநாட்டு நீதிபதிகளைக் கொண்டு விசாரிக்க ஒப்புக் கொண்டது இலங்கை அரசு. இது ஐ.நாவின் மனித உரிமைகள்ஆணைய தீர்மானத்தின் ஒரு பகுதியாக முன்னெடுக்கப்பட்டது.

ஆனால் தற்போதைய இலங்கை அதிபர் கோட்டாபய ராஜபக்‌ஷ, சிங்களப் பெரும்பான்மை வாக்குகளைக் கொண்டு தேர்தலில் வெற்றி பெற்ற பின், இந்த ஐநா மனித உரிமைகள் சபையின் தீர்மானத்தில் இருந்து, கடந்த பிப்ரவரி 2020-ல் பின்வாங்கினார். “இலங்கைப் போர் நாயகர்களுக்கு துரோகம் இழைப்பதை ஒரு முடிவுக்குக் கொண்டு வருவேன்” எனக் கடந்த ஆண்டு தன் ஆதரவாளர்களிடம் மீண்டும் உறுதி கூறினார் கோட்டாபய ராஜபக்‌ஷ.

மகிந்த ராஜபக்‌ஷ 2005 – 2015 வரை இலங்கை அதிபராக இருந்த போது, அவருக்குக் கீழ் பாதுகாப்புத் துறைச் செயலர் என்கிற வலுவான பதவியில் இருந்து கொண்டு உள்நாட்டுப் போரை தலைமை தாங்கி நடத்தினார் கோட்டாபய ராஜபக்‌ஷ. தன் உத்தரவின் பெயரில் போர்க் குற்றங்கள் நடந்தது என்கிற குற்றச்சாட்டை மறுக்கிறார் கோட்டாபய.

File picture of a Tamil woman crying as she holds up an image of her missing family member at a 2013 protest in Jaffna

“இலங்கையின் அரசியலமைப்புச் சட்டத்துக்கு உட்பட்டு பொறுப்பு ஏற்கச் செய்வதை இலங்கை அரசு எதிர்க்கவில்லை. ஆனால் இலங்கையின் அரசியலமைப்பு, வெளிநாட்டு நீதிபதிகள் விசாரிக்க வாய்ப்புகளை வழங்கவில்லை” என இலங்கையின் வெளியுறவுத் துறை அமைச்சர் தினேஷ் குணவர்தன பிபிசியிடம் கூறியுள்ளார்.

“இலங்கை இறுதிப் போர் முடிந்து கிட்டத்தட்ட 12 ஆண்டுகளுக்குப் பிறகும், இலங்கையில் சமாதானம் மற்றும் நல்லிணக்க நடவடிக்கைகள் தொடர்ந்து தோல்வி அடைந்து வருகின்றன. இது சூழலை மேலும் மோசமாக்குகிறது. பாதிக்கப்பட்டவர்களுக்கு அரசு அமைப்புகளின் மீதிருக்கும் அவநம்பிக்கையை அதிகரிக்கச் செய்கிறது” எனக் கூறியுள்ளார் ஐ.நா மனித உரிமைகள் ஆணையர் மிஷெல் பாசெலேட். இவரின் அறிக்கை இந்த வாரத்தில் ஐநா சபைக் கூட்டத்தில் சமர்பிக்கப்படும்.

“இலங்கையில் நிலவும் எதார்த்த கள சூழலும், ஐநா மனித உரிமைகள் ஆணையரின் அறிக்கையும் வெவ்வேறாக இருக்கின்றன. எனவேதான் இலங்கை அரசு, ஆணையரின் அறிக்கையை தகுந்த ஆதாரங்கள் மற்றும் விரிவான அறிக்கைகளோடு மறுத்தது” எனக் கூறியுள்ளார் வெளியுறவுத் துறை அமைச்சர் தினேஷ் குணவர்தன.

தற்போதைய இலங்கை அரசின் கீழ், போர் காலத்தில் நடந்த குற்றங்களுக்கு நீதி கேட்கும் செயற்பாட்டாளர்கள் அச்சுறுத்தலுக்கு ஆளாகிறார்கள் என மனித உரிமைகள் குழுவினர் கூறுகின்றனர்.

“இப்போதும் தமிழர்கள் அதிகம் இருக்கும் இலங்கையின் வடக்கு மற்றும் கிழக்குப் பகுதியில் கண்காணிப்புகள் அதிகமாக இருக்கின்றன. மக்கள் அமைப்புகளுக்கு இலங்கையின் பாதுகாப்புப் படையினர் தொடர்ந்து வந்து கொண்டிருக்கிறார்கள். இது ஒரு வகையான துன்புறுத்தல் தான்” என்கிறார் மனித உரிமைகள் வழக்குரைஞர் பவானி ஃபொன்சேகா.

இந்த மாத தொடக்கத்தில் ஆயிரக் கணக்கான தமிழர்கள், இஸ்லாமிய மற்றும் கிறிஸ்துவ சமூகத்தைச் சேர்ந்தவர்கள், கிழக்கு மாகாணத்தில் இருந்து வடக்கு மாகாணம் நோக்கி ஒரு பெரிய பேரணியை நடத்தினார்கள். கொரோனா தடைகள் இருந்த போதும், தங்களின் பிரச்சனைகளை வெளிப்படுத்த இந்த பேரணியை நடத்தினார்கள்.

Sri Lanka human rights: UK seeks new UN resolution on abuses
படக்குறிப்பு,சமீபத்தில் நடந்த பொத்துவில் தொடக்கம் பொலிகண்டி வரையிலான பேரணியில் சிறுபான்மையினரான தமிழர்கள், முஸ்லிம்கள், கிறிஸ்தவர்கள் பங்கேற்றனர்.

தமிழ் சமூகத்தைச் சேர்ந்தவர்கள் போர்க் காலத்தில் நடந்த குற்றங்களுக்கு பொறுப்பேற்கச் செய்வது மற்றும் நீதி பெறுவதற்காகப் போராடினார்கள் என்றால், கொரோனாவால் இறந்த இஸ்லாமியர்களின் உடலை கட்டாயப்படுத்தி அரசு எரியூட்டுவது தொடர்பாகப் புகார் கூறினார்கள் இஸ்லாமியர்கள். இது இஸ்லாமிய வழக்கத்துக்கு எதிரானது என்கிறார்கள்.

சமாதானம் மற்றும் நல்லிணக்க செயல்பாடுகள் மற்றும் போர் குற்றம் புரிந்தவர்களை பொறுப்பேற்கச் செய்வது போன்றவை தொடர்ந்து தற்போதைய அரசால் அமைப்பு ரீதியாக மழுங்கடிக்கப்பட்டு வருகிறது என இலங்கைத் தமிழர்கள் கூறுகிறார்கள்.

உதாரணமாக, கடந்த ஆண்டு சுனில் ரத்னநாயக என்கிற ராணுவ வீரருக்கு அதிபர் ராஜபக்‌ஷ பொது மன்னிப்பு வழங்கினார். கடந்த 2000-ம் ஆண்டில் இலங்கையின் வடக்கிலுள்ள யாழ்ப்பாணம் பகுதியில் இருக்கும் மிருசுவில் எனுமிடத்தில், ஐந்து வயது குழந்தை, இரண்டு பதின் வயது இளைஞர்கள் உட்பட, 8 பொது மக்களை கொன்ற குற்றத்துக்காக, சுனிலுக்கு இறக்கும் வரை சிறை தண்டனை வழங்கப்பட்டிருந்தது என்பது குறிப்பிடத்தக்கது.

இந்த பொது மன்னிப்பு, போரால் பாதிக்கப்பட்டவர்களை அவமதிப்பது போன்ற செயல் என ஐ.நா சபை கூறியது.

எப்போதைக் காட்டிலும் இப்போது நீதி வெகு தொலைவில் இருப்பது போலத் தோன்றுகிறது என திரிகோணமலையைச் சேர்ந்த ஆஷா நாகேந்திரன் கூறியுள்ளார்.

இவரது மகனை கடந்த 2008-ம் ஆண்டு இலங்கை பாதுகாப்புப் படையினர் விசாரணைக்காக அழைத்துச் சென்றனர். இதுவரை அவர் மகனிடம் இருந்து எந்த தகவலும் கிடைக்கவில்லை.

“ஐ.நா சபை இதற்கு மேலும் இலங்கை அரசுக்கு கால அவகாசம் கொடுக்கக் கூடாது. சர்வதேசப் பிரதிநிதிகளால் ஒரு குழு அமைக்கப்பட்டு விசாரணை நடத்தி எங்கள் அவல நிலையை விசாரித்து தீர்வு வழங்க வேண்டும்” என்கிறார் ஆஷா நாகேந்திரன்.

https://www.bbc.com/tamil/sri-lanka-56164224

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UNHRC Resolution 46/1 adopted at the 46th Sessions on March 23, 2021

Council,
Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, reaffirming the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and recalling the International Covenants on Human Rights and other relevant instruments,

Recalling Human Rights Council resolutions 19/2 of 22 March 2012, 22/1 of 21 March 2013, 25/1 of 27 March 2014, 30/1 of 1 October 2015, 34/1 of 23 March 2017 and 40/1 of 21 March 2019 on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka,
Recalling also that, in its resolution S-11/1 of 27 May 2009, the Human Rights Council welcomed the resolve of Sri Lanka to begin a broader dialogue with all parties in order to seek a political settlement and to bring about lasting peace and development in Sri Lanka based on consensus among and respect for the rights of those from all ethnic and religious groups, and endorsed the joint communiqué of 26 May 2009 of the President of Sri Lanka and the Secretary-General, in which the Secretary-General, inter alia, underlined the importance of an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law,
Reaffirming its commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka,
Reaffirming also that it is the primary responsibility of each State to respect human rights and to ensure the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of its entire population,
Acknowledging the holding of free and transparent democratic elections in November 2019 and August 2020,
Noting the enactment of the twentieth amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka, while stressing the importance of democratic governance and independent oversight of key institutions,

Calling upon the Government of Sri Lanka to fulfil its commitments on the devolution of political authority, which is integral to reconciliation and the full enjoyment of human rights by all members of its population, and encouraging the Government to respect local governance, including through the holding of elections for provincial councils, and to ensure that all provincial councils, including the northern and eastern provincial councils, are able to operate effectively, in accordance with the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka,

Reaffirming that all individuals in Sri Lanka are entitled to the full enjoyment of their human rights without distinction of any kind such as religion, belief or ethnic origin, and the importance of a peaceful and unified land to the enjoyment of human rights,
Acknowledging the progress made by the Government of Sri Lanka in rebuilding infrastructure, demining, land return, resettling internally displaced persons and improving livelihoods, and encouraging further efforts in these areas,
Welcoming the continued commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to remain engaged with and to seek the assistance of the United Nations and its agencies, including human rights mandates and mechanisms, in capacity-building and technical assistance, and to achieve sustainable peace,

Reaffirming its unequivocal condemnation of all acts, methods and practices of terrorism, including those committed in Sri Lanka in April 2019 that led to a large number of injuries and deaths, and reaffirming also that all measures taken to combat terrorism must fully comply with States’ obligations under international law, in particular international human rights law, and, as applicable, international refugee law and international humanitarian law,

Emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive approach to dealing with the past, incorporating judicial and non-judicial measures, to ensure accountability, to serve justice, to provide remedies to victims, to avoid the recurrence of violations of human rights and to promote healing and reconciliation, Recognizing that mechanisms to redress past abuses and violation work best when they are independent, impartial and transparent, and use consultative and participatory methods that include the views of all relevant stakeholders, including, but not limited to, victims, women, youth, representatives of various religions, ethnicities and geographic locations, as well as people from marginalized groups, Recalling the responsibility of States to comply with their relevant obligations under human rights law and international humanitarian law,including, where applicable, to prosecute those responsible for gross violations of human rights law or serious violations of international humanitarian law, Noting with appreciation the work of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights towards the promotion and protection of human rights and truth, justice, reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka,

1. Welcomes the oral update presented by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Human Rights Council at its forty-third session and the report of Office of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights presented to the Council at its forty-sixth session;1

4. Stresses the importance of a comprehensive accountability process for all violations and abuses of human rights committed in Sri Lanka by all parties, including those abuses by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, as highlighted in the comprehensive report of the Office of the High Commissioner on Sri Lanka; 2. Also welcomes the engagement of the Government of Sri Lanka with the Office of the High Commissioner and the special procedures of the Human Rights Council, urges the continuation of such engagement and dialogue, and calls upon Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations made by the Office and to give due consideration to the recommendations made by the special procedures; 3. Acknowledges the progress made by the Office on Missing Persons and the Office for Reparations, and stresses the importance of maintaining support for these institutions, safeguarding their independent and effective functioning, providing both offices with sufficient resources and technical means to effectively fulfil their mandates, allowing them to proceed with interim relief measures for affected vulnerable families, with a gender focus, and resolving the many cases of enforced disappearances so that the families of disappeared persons can know their fate and whereabouts;
2
6. Recognizes the importance of preserving and analysing evidence relating to violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes in Sri Lanka with a view to advancing accountability, and decides to strengthen in this regard the capacity of the Office of the High Commissioner to collect, consolidate, analyse and preserve information and evidence and to develop possible strategies for future accountability processes for gross violations of human rights or serious violations of international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka, to advocate for victims and survivors, 5. Notes the persistent lack of accountability of domestic mechanisms, that the domestic commission of inquiry announced on 22 January 2021 lacks independence and that its mandate is to review reports of previous commissions and committees, and does not include a mandate to pursue accountability for past gross violations of human rights or for serious violations of international humanitarian law;
1 A/HRC/46/20. 2 A/HRC/30/61.
and to support relevant judicial and other proceedings, including in the Member States, with competent jurisdiction;

7. Expresses serious concern at the trends emerging over the past year, which represent a clear early warning sign of a deteriorating situation of human rights in Sri Lanka,including the accelerating militarization of civilian government functions;the erosion of the independence of the judiciary and key institutions responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights; ongoing impunity and political obstruction of accountability for crimes and human rights violations in “emblematic cases”; policies that adversely affect the right to freedom of religion or belief;increased marginalization of persons belonging to the Tamil and Muslim communities; surveillance and intimidation of civil society;restrictions on media freedom, and shrinking democratic space;restrictions on public memorialization of victims of war, including the destruction of a memorial; arbitrary detentions; alleged torture and other cruel, inhuman degrading treatment or punishment, and sexual and gender-based violence; and that these trends threaten to reverse the limited but important gains made in recent years, and risk the recurrence of policies and practices that gave rise to the grave violations of the past;

8. Expresses further concern that the response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has had an impact on freedom of religion or belief and exacerbated the prevailing marginalization of and discrimination against the Muslim community, and that cremations for those deceased from COVID-19 have prevented Muslims and members of other religions from practising their own burial religious rites, and has disproportionately affected religious minorities and exacerbated distress and tensions;

9. Calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure the prompt, thorough and impartial investigation and, if warranted, prosecution of all alleged crimes relating to human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law, including for long-standing emblematic cases;

10. Also calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure the effective and independent functioning of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, the Office on Missing Persons and the Office for Reparations to deliver on their respective mandates as established;

11. Further calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to protect civil society actors, including human rights defenders, to investigate any attacks and to ensure a safe and enabling environment in which civil society can operate free from hindrance, surveillance, insecurity and threat of reprisals;

12. Requests the Government of Sri Lanka to review the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and to ensure that any legislation on combating terrorism complies fully with the State’s international human rights and humanitarian law obligations;

13. Urges the Government of Sri Lanka to foster freedom of religion or belief and pluralism by promoting the ability of all religious communities to manifest their religion, and to contribute openly and on an equal footing to society;

14. Encourages the Government of Sri Lanka to continue to cooperate with the special procedures of the Human Rights Council, including by responding formally to outstanding requests from them;

15. Encourages the Office of the High Commissioner and relevant special procedure mandate holders to provide, in consultation with and with the concurrence of the Government of Sri Lanka, advice and technical assistance on implementing the above-mentioned steps;

16. Requests the Office of the High Commissioner to enhance its monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights in Sri Lanka, including on progress in reconciliation and accountability, and to present an oral update to the Human Rights Council at its forty-eighth session, and a written update at its forty-
ninth session and a comprehensive report that includes further options for advancing accountability at its fifty-first session, both to be discussed in the context of interactive dialogue.(ENDS) (March 23, 2021)

An internal probe commissioned afterwards by Ban, then UN secretary-general found a “continued reluctance” among UN staff “to stand up for the rights of people they were mandated to assist”. “The situation bears a striking resemblance to the humanitarian community’s systematic failure in the final stages of the war in Sri Lanka, during which hundreds of thousands of Tamils were held against their will in internment camps that were fully paid for and serviced by international humanitarian institutions,” said the report.

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40th meeting
1 October 2015
[Adopted without a vote.]

A/HRC/RES/30/12

Welcoming further the steps taken to strengthen civilian administration in the former conflict-affected provinces of the North and the East, acknowledging the progress made by the Government of Sri Lanka in rebuilding infrastructure, demining and resettling internally displaced persons, and calling upon the international community, including the United Nations, to assist the Government of Sri Lanka in furthering these efforts, especially in expediting the process of deliveringdurable solutions for all internally displaced persons,Recognizingthe improved environment for members of civil society and human rights defenders in Sri Lanka while expressing concern at reports of ongoing violations and abuses of human rights,and recognizing the expressed commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to address issues,including those involving sexual and gender-based violence andtorture, abductions, as well as intimidation of and threatsagainst human rights defenders andmembers of civil society,Reaffirmingthat all Sri Lankans are entitled to the full enjoyment of their human rights regardless of religion, belief or ethnicity, in a peaceful and unified land,Reaffirming alsothat States must ensure that any measure taken to combat terrorism complies with their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law, as applicable,Welcomingthe Declaration of Peace of the Governmentof 4 February 2015 and its acknowledgement of the loss of life and victims of violence of all ethnicities and religions,Emphasizingthe importance of a comprehensive approach to dealing with the past,incorporating the full range of judicial and non-judicial measures, including, inter alia, individual prosecutions, reparations, truth-seeking, institutional reform, the vetting of public employees and officials, or an appropriately conceived combination thereof, in order to, inter alia, ensure accountability, serve justice, provide victims with remedies, promote healing and reconciliation, establish independent oversight of the security system, restore confidence in the institutions of the State and promote the rule of law in accordance with international human rights law with a view to preventingthe recurrence of violations and abuses, and welcoming in this regard the expressed commitment of the Governmentto ensure dialogue and wide consultations with all stakeholders,Recognizingthat mechanisms to redress past abuses and violationswork bestwhen they are independent, impartial and transparent; are led by individuals known for displaying the highest degree of professionalism, integrity and impartiality; utilize consultative and participatory methods that include the views ofall relevant stakeholders,including, but not limited to, victims, women, youth, representatives ofvarious religions, ethnicities and geographic locations,as well as marginalized groups; andaredesigned and implemented on the basis of expert advice from those with relevant international and domestic experience,Recognizingalsothat a credible accountability process for those most responsible for violations and abuses will safeguard the reputation of those, including within the military, who conducted themselves in an appropriate manner with honour and professionalism,Recallingthe responsibility of States to comply with their relevant obligations to prosecute those responsible for gross violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law constituting crimes under international law, with a view to endingimpunity,Taking noteof the review of the high-security zones undertaken by the Government,and welcomingthe initial steps taken to return land to its rightful civilian owners and to helplocal populations to resume livelihoods and to restore normality to civilian life,

A/HRC/RES/30/13

Welcoming the commitments of the Government of Sri Lanka to the devolution of political authority, Requesting the Government of Sri Lanka to implement effectively the constructive recommendations made in the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, Welcoming the visitfrom30 March to3 April 2015 by and the observations of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, and the planned visit of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances in November 2015,

Recognizing that the investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes in Sri Lanka requested by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 25/1 was necessitated by the absence of a credible national process of accountability,

1.Takes note with appreciation of the oral update presented by the United Nations High Commissioner to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-seventh session, the report of the Office of the High Commissioner on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka1and its investigation on Sri Lanka requested by the Human Rights Council in its resolution 25/1,2 including its findings and conclusions, and encourages the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations contained therein when implementing measures for truth-seeking, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence;

2.Welcomes the positive engagement between the Government of Sri Lanka and the High Commissioner and theOffice of the High Commissioner since January 2015, and encourages the continuation of that engagement in the promotion and protection of human rights and in exploring appropriate forms of international support for and participation in Sri Lankan processes for seeking truth and justice;

3.Supports the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to strengthen and safeguard the credibility of the processes of truth-seeking, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence by engaging in broad national consultations with the inclusion of victims and civil society, including non-governmental organizations, from all affected communities, which will inform the design and implementation of these processes, drawing on international expertise,assistance and best practices;

4.Welcomes the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to undertake a comprehensive approach to dealing with the past, incorporating the full range of judicial and non-judicial measures; also welcomes in this regard the proposal by the Government to establish a commission for truth, justice, reconciliation and non-recurrence, an office of missing persons and an office for reparations; further welcomes the willingness of the Government to give each mechanism the freedom to obtain financial, material and technical assistance from international partners, including the Office of the High Commissioner; and affirms that these commitments, if implemented fully and credibly, will help to advance accountability for serious crimes by all sides and to achieve reconciliation;

5.Recognizes the need for a process of accountability and reconciliation for the violations and abuses committed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, as highlighted in the report of the Office of the High Commissioner on its investigation on Sri Lanka;1A/HRC/30/61.2See A/HRC/30/CRP.2.

A/HRC/RES/30/14

6.Welcomes the recognition by the Government of Sri Lanka that accountability is essential to uphold the rule of law and to build confidence in the people of all communities of Sri Lanka in the justice system, notes with appreciation the proposal of the Government of Sri Lanka to establish a judicial mechanism with a special counsel to investigate allegations of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, as applicable; affirms that a credible justice process should include independent judicial and prosecutorial institutions led by individuals known for their integrity and impartiality; and also affirms in this regard the importance of participation in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism, including the special counsel’s office, of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers and authorized prosecutors and investigators;

7.Encourages the Government of Sri Lanka to reform its domestic law to ensure that it can implement effectively its own commitments, the recommendations made in the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, as well as their commendations of the report of the Office of the High Commissioner, 1including by allowing for, in a manner consistent with its international obligations, the trial and punishment of those most responsible for the full range of crimes under the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations relevant to violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, including during the period covered by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission;

8.Also encourages the Government of Sri Lanka to introduce effective security sector reforms as part of its transitional justice process, which will help to enhance the reputation and professionalism of the military and include ensuring that no scope exists for retention in or recruitment into the security forces of anyone credibly implicated through a fair administrative process in serious crimes involving human rights violations or abuses or violations of international humanitarian law, including members of the security and intelligence units; and also to increase training and incentives focused on the promotion and protection of human rights of all Sri Lankans;

9.Welcomes the recent passage by the Government of Sri Lanka of an updated witness and victim protection law and its commitment to review the law, and encourages the Government to strengthen these essential protections by making specific accommodations to protect effectively witnesses and victims, investigators, prosecutors and judges;

10.Also welcomes the initial steps taken to return the land, and encourages the Government of Sri Lanka to accelerate the return of land to its rightful civilian owners, and to undertake further efforts to tackle the considerable work that lies ahead in the areas of land use and ownership, in particular the ending of military involvement in civilian activities, the resumption of livelihoods and the restoration of normality to civilian life, and stresses the importance of the full participation of local populations, including representatives of civil society and minorities, in these efforts;

11.Encourages the Government of Sri Lanka to investigate all alleged attacks by individuals and groups on journalists, human rights defenders, members of religious minority groups and other members of civil society, as well as places of worship, and to hold perpetrators of such attacks to account and to take steps to prevent such attacks in the future;

12.Welcomes the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to review the Public Security Ordinance Act and to review and repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and to replace it with anti-terrorism legislation in accordance with contemporary international best practices;

A/HRC/RES/30/15

13.Also welcomes the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance without delay, to criminalize enforced disappearances and to begin to issue certificates of absence to the families of missing persons as a temporary measure of relief;

14.Further welcomes the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to release publicly previous presidential commission reports;

15.Encourages the Government of Sri Lanka to develop a comprehensive plan and mechanism for preserving all existing records and documentation relating to human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, whether held by public or private institutions;

16.Welcomes the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to a political settlement by taking the necessary constitutional measures, encourages the Government’s efforts to fulfil its commitments on the devolution of political authority, which is integral to reconciliation and the full enjoyment of human rights by all members of its population; and also encourages the Government to ensure that all Provincial Councils are able to operate effectively, in accordance with the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka;

17. Also welcomes the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to issue instructions clearly to all branches of the security forces that violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including those involving torture, rape and sexual violence, are prohibited and that those responsible will be investigated and punished, and encourages the Government to address all reports of sexual and gender-based violence and torture;

18.Requests the Office of the High Commissioner to continue to assess progress on the implementation of its recommendations and other relevant processes related to reconciliation, accountability and human rights, and to present an oral update to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-second session, and a comprehensive report followed by a discussion on the implementation of the present resolution at its thirty-fourth session;

19.Encourages the Government of Sri Lanka to continue to cooperate with special procedure mandate holders, including by responding formally to outstanding requests;

20. Encourages the Office of the High Commissioner and relevant special procedure mandate holders to provide, in consultation with and with the concurrence of the Government of Sri Lanka, advice and technical assistance on implementing the above-mentioned steps.40th meeting1 October 2015[Adopted without a vote.]




 

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Writer and Journalist living in Canada since 1987. Tamil activist.

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