The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is to push for the full implementation of the 2015 Resolution on Sri Lanka.
The OHCHR Chief of Rule of Law Equality and Non Discrimination Branch Mona Rishmawi, who was in Sri Lanka and met the Government days before the 40th session of the UNHRC, told The Sunday Morning that OHCHR would like to see what alternative proposals Sri Lanka has if it is to reject the proposals made by OHCHR.
“There are some emblematic cases which are blocked because of the local justice system. So Resolution 30/1 proposes obtaining foreign assistance. If Sri Lanka is not prepared to do so, then they must propose an alternative. Focusing on the nationality of the judge is not important but what is important is how to unblock this accountability problem. We need to see that justice is done. Right now, we see the process is slow and it’s not delivering,” she said.
Rishmawi said that after the 2015 Resolution on Sri Lanka was passed with the support of Sri Lanka, the OHCHR office had been working with the Government to implement the proposals in the Resolution.
She noted that the Government had taken several important steps which included establishing a task force to look at the human rights issue and made proposals which were in line with the expectations of the international community.
From our point of view, we feel several positive measures have been taken since then, such as the establishment of the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) which will benefit all communities. We also welcome the fact that there is a discussion around the setting up of a reparations office. We support the work of the independent commissions established after the 19th Amendment was passed. We also know there is a Bill on truth seeking. So we acknowledge that a number of positive steps have been taken,” she said.
However, she said the process is going at a slow pace and so the last Resolution calls for a time-bound process.
However, President Maithripala Sirisena, last week, criticised the OMP and moves to establish a truth seeking commission while the Foreign Minister said that Sri Lanka would not agree to any deadline.
However, Rishmawi said that by cosponsoring the last Resolution, Sri Lanka agreed to show more progress over the next two years.
Last week in Parliament, several comments were made on the Resolution and the High Commissioner’s report on Sri Lanka with different views and interpretations being voiced.
“I think we can refocus attention on the implementation of this Resolution. What has happened over the last few days is a little distraction. Instead of saying we have something positive to work with the international community on, there is a distraction on what was said and what was not said. This is not helpful because the Resolution is the Resolution and the report by the High Commissioner is very clear; and the High Commissioner stands by her report,” she said.
Rishmawi said that the High Commissioner wants to keep the focus on fulfilling the obligations and ensuring justice and accountability for all communities.
“The recommendations are basically an agreed framework. What we want to see is if the recommendations will be implemented or not. So you have a baseline which is Resolution 30/1 and we now see what has been implemented and how we can make sure the rest are implemented so Sri Lanka looks good,” she said.
Rishmawi said that OHCHR is committed to ensure Resolution 30/1 and 40/1 are fully implemented and they hope the Government will support the implementation of the Resolution.