Despite Sri Lanka co-sponsoring the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Resolution No. 30/1 in September 2015, progress in fulfilling commitments therein has slowed to a glacial pace, Amnesty International said today.
Delays have affected key issues include guaranteeing truth and accountability on the issues of enforced disappearances – sparking months-long protests by families of the disappeared in the north and east of the country.
Sri Lanka has pledged before the UPR in November that it will formulate a comprehensive reparations policy, and fulfill commitments contained in United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1.
The Government has further specified its commitments under the Resolution and said that it would fulfill its commitment towards ‘operationalizing the Office on Missing Persons’, the ‘establishment of a truth seeking commission, an office for reparations, and a judicial mechanism with a special counsel’
While Sri Lanka’s voluntary pledges at the UPR are welcome, the state must meet its human rights obligations and effectively implement measures on truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of nonrecurrence, as it had promised to do more than two years ago. Amnesty International reiterates its call made in May 2017 on the Government to announce a clear and coordinated roadmap on its commitments on truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence.
Amnesty International called for independent and impartial international investigations into these allegations in its 2016 report ‘Making the Rights Choices’, in the context of previous failures by the Government of Sri Lanka to investigate, acknowledge and prosecute alleged war crimes and other crimes committed in the island nation. In this instance, Amnesty International further calls on Sri Lanka to establish a “Special Counsel” to carry out prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigations of all crimes including enforced disappearances and to hold the suspected perpetrators accountable through fair trials without recourse to the death penalty.
Sri Lanka commits to take measures to address truth and justice in the case of Enforced Disappearances Amnesty International welcomes Sri Lanka’s commitment to the families of victims that they will get information on the names and whereabouts of detained persons. However information guarantees must extend to immediately providing answers to the families of the disappeared with regards to any persons who may have been killed in detention, as well as justice and accountability for such crimes. Chronic delays in fulfilling previous promises to guarantee truth and information of those subject to enforced disappearances, have been highlighted before by Amnesty in its 2017 report ‘Only Justice can Heal our
While Sri Lanka has supported the recommendation to enact legislation making enforced disappearances a crime under domestic law in accordance with its treaty obligations, Amnesty International says the Government of Sri Lanka must provide clear timelines for such legislative amendments.
Sri Lanka ratified the International Convention for the Protection of All persons from Enforced Disappearance on 25 May 2016 and a draft bill to amend the Penal Code and criminalize Enforced Disappearances was tabled in Parliament in February 2017. However, since then the parliamentary approval for the legislative amendments has seen persistent delays and postponements. Amnesty International calls on the Government to take all necessary steps to give full effect to its obligations under the Convention and immediately pass necessary legislative amendments. (Colombo Gazette)