Another pro-Sri Lanka resolution likely in March
The resolution is to back giving the government more time to implement the systems needed to be in place to take the reconciliation process forward.
The 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council will take place in Geneva from February 27 to March 24 and an interactive dialogue will be held on Sri Lanka on March 22.
The discussion will be based on the report on Sri Lanka submitted to the UN Human Rights Council this year by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Al Ra’ad Al Hussein.
In his report Zeid had expressed satisfaction on the efforts taken by the government to address reconciliation issues.
However, he had raised concerns over the slow progress on releasing more land held by the military. He had also raised concerns over the failure to abolish the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
He also noted the need for international participation in the accountability process. The High Commissioner had urged the government to take concrete steps to address the impatience, anxiety and reservations towards the process that stem from various quarters, and reiterates the importance for all Sri Lankans to rally behind the process.
He also said the encouragement and support of the Human Rights Council has been crucial in underpinning this process and giving assurance and confidence to all stakeholders, particularly the victim community.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein had also spoken on Sri Lanka in his opening speech at that session and had said that there needs to be inclusive and meaningful engagement of all Sri Lankans when implementing the resolution on Sri Lanka adopted by the UN Human Rights Council last year.
He said that in Sri Lanka, the government’s efforts to implement its commitments in Resolution 30/1 will require a comprehensive strategy on transitional justice that enables it to pursue different processes in a coordinated, integrated and appropriately sequenced manner.
Since the publishing of the report on Sri Lanka last year, the government has taken slow but meaningful steps to put in place an effective accountability mechanism.
However, since concerns continue to be raised on the progress shown to hold those accused of human rights violations during the war accountable, the government is expected to get support for a resolution which will back giving Sri Lanka more time.
The issue of torture continued to put Sri Lanka in the spotlight this year with allegations raised that some incidents of police torture had taken place even after the new government took office.
The International Truth and Justice Project had last month called upon the UN Committee Against Torture to visit Sri Lanka to conduct an independent investigation into the continued ‘white van’ abductions, torture and sexual violence committed by the Sri Lankan security forces.
“Intelligence and security operatives continue to target Tamils for illegal detention in secret sites and inflict on them horrific torture and sexual violence with impunity, despite the change of government in January 2015,” said the Executive Director of the International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP), Yasmin Sooka.
The ITJP has collected testimony from 36 Tamil victims in three European countries, who have suffered abduction, illegal detention, torture and/or sexual violence at the hands of intelligence and security officers under the Sirisena government. In 10 of these cases the victims have already been granted asylum, meaning their cases have already been found credible by foreign governments.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) had said last month if the government really wants to reform its security sector, it will need to take on police abuse, which may only get worse under a proposed new anti-terrorism law that expands police powers.
The last time a resolution was submitted on Sri Lanka was in October 2015 which was co-sponsored by the government.
The resolution on Sri Lanka presented to the UN Human Rights Council, was adopted without a vote during the 30th session of the Council.
Titled ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’ the resolution was passed after no country sought a vote on the text.
The US delegation in Geneva at the time presented the resolution to the Council but next year a new government will be in office in the US headed by Donald Trump.
Sri Lanka has already opened the doors to work with the Trump administration on the human rights issue.
US Vice President-elect Mike Pence had earlier this month telephoned President Maithripala Sirisena and discussed future US-Sri Lanka relations.
Pence and President Maithripala Sirisena had reportedly discussed further strengthening US-Sri Lanka relations under President Donald Trump.
US Vice President-elect Mike Pence had told President Sirisena he will look to arrange a meeting soon between Trump and Sirisena.