Sri Lanka to brief UNHRC members, NGOs at side event

MangalaA Sri Lankan delegation is to brief UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) members, NGOs and others at a side event to be held at the UNHRC building this week.

The briefing is to take place ahead of the presentation of an oral update on Sri Lanka by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) at the ongoing 32nd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera is expected to head the delegation at the briefing which follows similar briefings held by Tamil diaspora groups on Sri Lanka.

At one such briefing, legal experts from the Monitoring Accountability Panel (MAP) gave their assessment of the Sri Lankan Government’s transitional justice programme to date.

The panel discussion was chaired by eminent jurist, Geoffrey Robertson QC, and included a detailed assessment by US lawyer, Ms Heather Ryan.

At the meeting, it was noted that following the UN Human Rights Council Resolution on ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka,’ (October 2015), the Sri Lankan Government promised to consult widely with victims and establish accountability mechanisms to address the mass crimes committed during the armed conflict.

MAP said the measures specifically included a criminal justice process with foreign judges and prosecutors to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

However they noted that to date the Sri Lankan Government’s efforts have fallen well short of expectations.

They said that whilst the consultation process is still underway, the Sri Lankan Government has already made major decisions on the transitional justice process without waiting to receive the views of those most affected.

The greatest concern is the Sri Lankan Government’s backtracking on the inclusion of foreign judges and prosecutors in future war crimes prosecutions. (Colombo Gazette)