Sri Lanka slams ‘external initiatives’ at HRC

G.L. Peiris  

Sri Lanka on Tuesday said it rejects “any external initiatives” established by UN mechanisms, envisaged in the resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council in March, claiming that domestic processes are “vigorously addressing” questions of accountability and justice lingering from the civil war years.

The March 2021 UN resolution on Sri Lanka, adopted with 22 of the 47 member-states of Council backing it, underscored the “persistent lack of accountability of domestic mechanisms”, and decided to strengthen the capacity of the Office of the High Commissioner to “collect, consolidate, analyse, and preserve” information and evidence and to develop strategies for future accountability processes for gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka.

Delivering a statement a day after the UN Human Rights Chief’s oral update on Sri Lanka, in which she sought “close attention” on, and “concrete actions” from Sri Lanka, Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris said external initiatives “will polarise our society”.

“The Council must adhere to its founding principles. External initiatives embarked upon without the cooperation of the country concerned cannot achieve their stated goals, and will be subject to politicisation,” he noted, adding that Sri Lanka is “committed to achieving tangible progress on the entire range of issues” relating to accountability, reconciliation, human rights, peace and sustainable development.

Govt. initiatives

The Minister further outlined initiatives taken by the Rajapaksa administration, in regard to enforced disappearances, reparations, reconciliation efforts and institutional reform. Survivors of the country’s 30-year-long civil war have repeatedly stated that the existing domestic mechanisms are yet to inspire faith, or deliver on past promises on truth, accountability and justice.

Minister Peiris also pointed to a Cabinet sub-committee tasked with evaluation and possible reform of the country’s anti-terrorism law, widely criticised as “draconian”. In her oral update on Monday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet sought “an immediate moratorium” on the use of the Act, and “a clear timeline” for its comprehensive review or repeal.

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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 5:17:52 PM |

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