The Government today raised objections and concerns over the first draft text of the resolution on Sri Lanka which is to be tabled during the 30th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
In a statement made during an informal consultation on the draft resolution on Sri Lanka organized by the Permanent Mission of the United States of America at the UN building in Geneva, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha said that the text is reparative, judgmental and prescriptive and not in keeping with the spirit of the process of reconciliation and reform underway in Sri Lanka.
“Neither is it helpful in adopting a collaborative approach to reaching consensus. Many paragraphs in the current draft are in fact counterproductive to the reconciliation efforts of the Government and have the tendency to polarize communities, vitiate the atmosphere on the ground that is being carefully nurtured towards reconciliation and pace building and restrict the space required for consultation,” he said.
The informal discussion, which was also attended by the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Atul Keshap, was held to discuss the draft of the resolution through which Sri Lanka is looking to seek support for a domestic process to investigate and address alleged human rights abuses and war crimes.
“There is real danger that the current approach will leave room for negative interpretation thus only helping spoilers in the process,” Ambassador to Ravinatha Aryasinha said at the discussion.
He also said that emphasizing excessively on the criminal justice aspects, makes the resolution imbalanced.
“It would be more helpful to have a holistic approach when making recommendations in the resolution on promoting reconciliation in Sri Lanka,” he added.
The first draft of the resolution notes that it welcomes the oral update presented by the High Commissioner to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-seventh session, the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka and the report of its Investigation on Sri Lanka requested in Human Rights Council resolution 25/1 including its findings, and conclusions, and calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations contained therein.
It also encourages the new Government of Sri Lanka to respect its positive commitment to bolster and safeguard the credibility of these justice processes by engaging in broad national consultations with the inclusion of victims and civil society, including non-governmental organizations, from all affected communities that will inform the design and implementation of these processes, as well as assistance from international experts and the international community throughout the process, and to ensuring strong and effective witness and victim protection measures are in place.
It also calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka, to involve international investigators, prosecutors and judges in Sri Lanka’s justice processes and review and, where required, reform domestic law to ensure that it allows for prosecution of the full range of crimes under domestic and international law involving violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law.
The first draft, which was released last Friday also urges 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 on temples, mosques and churches, and to hold perpetrators of such attacks to account and to take steps to prevent such attacks in the future.
It also urges the Government of Sri Lanka to credibly investigate widespread allegations of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, demilitarize the north and east of Sri Lanka, implement impartial land dispute resolution mechanisms, re-evaluate detention policies, strengthen formerly independent civil institutions, reach a political settlement on the devolution of power to the provinces, promote and protect the right of freedom of expression for all persons and enact rule of law reforms, (HRC 25/1)
It also requests the Office of the High Commissioner to assess and verify the human rights situation in Sri Lanka; to continue to assess progress on the implementation of OHCHR’s recommendations and other relevant processes related to reconciliation, accountability, and human rights; to present an oral update to the Human Rights Council at its thirty-third session, and a comprehensive report followed by discussion on the implementation of the present resolution at its thirty-fourth session. (Colombo Gazette)
Sri Lanka’s response to the first draft text: