Amnesty International welcomed Sri Lanka ‘landmark’ UN resolution, adding that it ‘marks crucial turning point on justice and accountability’.
A new UN resolution on Sri Lanka is an important step forward and offers renewed hope of long-awaited justice for victims of the country’s 30-year civil conflict, said Amnesty International, following its adoption by the Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
The resolution not only ramps up international monitoring and scrutiny of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, but also mandates the UN human rights office to collect, consolidate and preserve evidence for future prosecutions and make recommendations to the international community on steps they can make to deliver on justice and accountability, it added.
“This is a significant move by the Human Rights Council, which signals a shift in approach by the international community. Years of support and encouragement to Sri Lanka to pursue justice at the national level achieved nothing. This resolution should send a clear message to perpetrators of past and current crimes that they cannot continue to act with impunity,” said Hilary Power, Amnesty International’s representative to the UN in Geneva.
“While an important first step, the real impact of further monitoring and reporting will rely on other UN member states using the resolution as a basis for concrete action, including investigations and prosecutions under universal jurisdiction and a possible referral to the International Criminal Court.”
The resolution was adopted in light of what the UN human rights chief described as “insurmountable barriers for victims to access justice” at national level, and the “inability and unwillingness” of the Government to prosecute and punish perpetrators of crimes under international law.
The resolution comes in the wake of damning reports by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Amnesty International and others, condemning Sri Lanka’s ongoing refusal to address historic crimes and expressing alarm over the deteriorating outlook for human rights in the country. We urge Sri Lanka to engage constructively with the OHCHR, to implement the recommendations of the report and to allow full and unfettered access to the country Hilary Power, Amnesty International’s representative to the UN in Geneva
As the resolution was being negotiated in Geneva, Sri Lanka continued to issue blanket denials and reject the findings and legitimacy of the UN report. In the meantime, at home the authorities continued to prove the concerns valid, passing new regulations that target minorities.
“We urge Sri Lanka to engage constructively with the OHCHR, to implement the recommendations of the report and to allow full and unfettered access to the country. Failing this, the Human Rights Council may take more robust action, including the establishment of an independent accountability mechanism,” said Hilary Power.