The GTF congratulated Bachelet on her appointment as the seventh UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“In Sri Lanka, the UN system failed miserably in 2009 in preventing the deaths of tens of thousands, mostly Tamil citizens in the hands of the country’s security forces. However, the initiatives taken by the leading UN officials to address this failure are notable and praiseworthy. The then UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon appointed a Panel of Experts to address accountability issues related to alleged war time abuses and an Internal Review Panel to prevent the repetition of the Sri Lanka-type failure,” GTF said.
GTF also said that former UN High Commissioner Navi Pillai advocated for the UNHRC to mandate an international inquiry and instrumental in setting up an OHCHR investigation of Sri Lanka (OISL) under the guidance of eminent international jurists.
“The outgoing UN High Commissioner Zeid was key to monitoring accountability and reconciliation efforts in Sri Lanka. The leadership shown by these UN officials and the support from several countries ultimately led to the passing of the UNHRC resolutions 30/1 and 34/1, in 2015 and 2017, respectively,” GTF added.
GTF said that though Sri Lanka co-sponsored these resolutions, its commitment and will to implement them have not been demonstrated in the three intervening years.
“The reports presented by the High Commissioner Zeid and the core group of countries during the UNHRC reviews for monitoring the progress on implementation unambiguously attest to this fact. Frustrated by the lack of will and slow pace of implementation by the Sri Lanka government he argued for the establishment of a specialized court supported by international practitioners and urging member states to act on their responsibility via universal jurisdiction,” GTF added.
It is in this context GTF noted that the March 2019 session will be crucial in ensuring Sri Lanka continues to be under the purview of the UNHRC, with necessary arrangements to address the discrepancies between its promises and delivery.
GTF warned that any failure on the part of the UNHRC will send a wrong message to countries with despicable human rights record that they can live out a resolution without consequences – an undesirable failure the UN system cannot afford and a major setback to promoting human rights across the globe.
GTF is a global diaspora organization of Tamils based in London. (Colombo Gazette)