Slow progress noted in Sri Lanka in submission to UNHRC

UNHRCAmnesty International, in a written statement to the 33rd session of the UN Human Rights Council which begins this week, says slow progress in delivering on many aspects of the ambitious agenda of the government coupled with lack of transparency has led some victims and human rights defenders to express frustration.

The human rights group says most crimes under international law allegedly committed before, during, and after Sri Lanka’s protracted armed conflict between government forces and the LTTE, which ended in 2009, remain uninvestigated and unpunished.

“As a co-sponsor of the resolution, Sri Lanka promised to establish mechanisms to deliver justice, truth, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, in line with the recommendations of the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL). There has been progress, but much more must be done,” AI said.

AI says public consultations, the bedrock on which Sri Lanka’s transitional justice process must be built, are underway.

However, AI noted that implementation has been undermined by lack of government resources, including to publicise the process nationally to all affected communities and provide effective protection mechanisms so that victims and their families can participate in safety and confidence.

AI also notes, to be effective, the office on Missing Persons must provide families with the truth about what happened to their loved ones.

“Many fear their right to truth might be compromised because Sri Lanka’s newly enacted Right to Information Act would not apply to confidential information received by the Office. The OMP must not agree to confidentiality regarding any information that would deny families the truth about the whereabouts or fate of their loved ones or obstruct their access to justice,” AI said.

AI also says the shortcomings of the OMP law drafting process provide important lessons for the government as it develops other mechanisms. (Colombo Gazette)