More needs to be done, West tells Sri Lanka

They were appreciative of the work accomplished by Sri Lanka and none of them sounded harsh.

June 30, 2016 08:41 pm | Updated September 18, 2016 10:31 am IST - COLOMBO

Western nations have reminded Sri Lanka that much more remains to be achieved in the areas of reconciliation and accountability.

In their response to an oral update made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and the subsequent speech of Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera at the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday, the countries urged Sri Lanka to see to it that the commitments made in the resolution adopted by the HRC unanimously in October last were carried out. They were appreciative of the work accomplished by Sri Lanka and none of them sounded harsh.

The United Kingdom, one of those which sponsored the resolution, underscored the importance of “a comprehensive approach” to dealing with the past, restoring confidence in state institutions, and developing a just political settlement for all people. The United States, another sponsor of the motion, wanted Sri Lanka to make “continued tangible steps” towards setting up “credible justice, accountability, and reconciliation mechanisms.”

Acknowledging that Sri Lanka was “still at the beginning of a long process,” the European Union stressed the need for international participation in the accountability mechanism so that “the process is both credible and perceived as such by all sides in line with the October commitments.” The government should "continue taking steps" to build the confidence of communities and normalise life in the Northern and Eastern provinces.

Norway, which played a crucial role in bringing about the 2002 ceasefire agreement between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), noted that there was “political opposition to the government’s initiatives” to implement the resolution and that concessions needed to be made in order to achieve progress. Expressing the hope that the ongoing process of constitutional reforms would result in the crucial basis for "a nation that acknowledges its ethnic and cultural diversity and for achieving reconciliation,” the Scandinavian country also wanted Sri Lanka to work hard to “keep the tight time schedule” for the process.

Canada, known for having a significant number of Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, called for an “inclusive and coordinated approach” to reforms — political, legal and constitutional. Germany pointed out that victims on all sides of the conflict had waited “too long.” It said leadership and resolve as well as confidence building and credibility would be priorities.

While there was no reaction from India, Pakistan had appreciated the “strong and positive commitment” of Sri Lanka for the promotion and protection of human rights.

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