Core group on Sri Lanka tells UNHRC reconciliation efforts at risk

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Members of the Sri Lanka core group have told the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that the pace of progress in Sri Lanka on important areas remains much slower than many hoped for.

The core group said that as time passes, lack of progress in delivering key steps risks undermining reconciliation efforts.

The statement was delivered on behalf of Germany, Macedonia, Montenegro and the UK.

The core group welcomed recent steps Sri Lanka has taken to implement commitments made to the Council in 2015 and 2017.

“We welcome the Government’s continued engagement with the UN system and actions to implement its National Reconciliation Action Plan and Peacebuilding Priority Plan. We applaud the Office on Missing Persons’ commencement of work and encourage everyone able to advance or contribute to its work to do so. We hope the Government will establish an Office for Reparations quickly. We also welcome the return of further private land in the north, and commitments to return more military-occupied land to civilian ownership,” the core group on Sri Lanka said.

Nonetheless, they said the pace of progress on important areas remains much slower than many hoped for.

“As time passes, lack of progress in delivering key steps risks undermining reconciliation efforts. In co-sponsoring resolution 30/1, Sri Lanka recognised that national accountability mechanisms are essential to dealing with the past, and to restoring confidence among its communities. These have yet to be established. The Prevention of Terrorism Act has not been replaced with a law that accords with international standards,” the statement said.

The core group said that though processes to consider reform to important provisions of the Constitution, including devolution of political authority, has been ongoing since 2016, a way forward has not been found.

“We are concerned by recent reports of harassment of and attacks on human rights defenders. Our view remains that, with determined leadership and a clear time-bound action plan, this Government can make more progress towards delivering its Council commitments, and that doing so will better position Sri Lanka and its people to enjoy a more enduring reconciliation and prosperity,” they said.

The core group urged Sri Lanka to prioritise and drive forward implementation of resolutions 30/1 and 34/1, before the Council next considers Sri Lanka in March. (Colombo Gazette)

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