The Human Rights Council heard the presentation of thematic reports by the United Nations Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights and held a general debate on the reports. The Council in its interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights on her annual report which she presented to the Council on Thursday, 28 February in the afternoon.
In her closing remarks Ms. Pillay said that she took seriously into consideration the areas of concern which had been bought to her attention. The High Commissioner reiterated her concern about the lack of meaningful progress in accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka and welcomed the Council’s engagement in monitoring domestic processes regarding accountability. Ms. Pillay agreed that the post-2015 agenda should be global and applicable to all, consistent with all human rights, and it should promote active participation in its design and implementation.
Speaking in the interactive dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights were Angola, Austria, Republic of Moldova, Nigeria, Montenegro, Turkey, Iran, Switzerland and Belarus.
Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation welcomed the increasing use of commissions of inquiry and fact-finding missions to investigate allegations of serious violations, and urged the Council to establish a commission of inquiry to investigate the allegations of serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law which had occurred in Sri Lanka at the end of the civil war. Any action of the Council that fell short of a credible international investigation would lead to irrevocable damaged being inflicted on the Tamil population.
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, in a joint statement, said that the situation in Sri Lanka was deteriorating with suppression of free speech and the loss of any democratic space. Journalists continued to live and work in fear of reprisals in the country and human rights defenders were attacked. Increased responsibility and accountability within the United Nations system was an encouraging development, but efforts needed to be stepped up to have crimes against humanity in Sri Lanka investigated by an independent body.
Montenegro expressed its appreciation for the prompt attention by the High Commissioner to ongoing issues including Syria and Mali and asked what steps were being taken to address the concerns the High Commissioner had expressed in her report about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.
Amnesty International welcomed the report of the High Commissioner on Sri Lanka and agreed that the attention of the Human Rights Council to accountability and reconciliation had provided space to discuss human rights.
“It was clear that the Government was unwilling to secure justice in the protracted armed conflict and continued reports of human rights violations, including extra-judicial killings, abductions and enforced disappearances underscored the need to address impunity,” the Amnesty International said.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that she had taken seriously into consideration the areas of concern which had been bought to her attention. Her Office would prepare a practical guide to support the integration of human rights practices into laws. Concerning Sri Lanka, the report on that country would be discussed before the Council. Ms. Pillay said that she remained concerned about the lack of meaningful progress in terms of accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka, and she welcomed the Council’s engagement in monitoring domestic processes regarding accountability. She added that although she supports the Sri Lankan government’s National Plan of Action for the implementation of the LLRC recommendations, the implementation of recommendations is being done selectively.
“While clearly the Sri Lankan Government has invested in the physical aspects of reconciliation and development in the north of the island including the resettlement of IDPs, all of which I welcome, I remain concerned about the lack of meaningful progress on accountability and reconciliation,” she said
Ms. Pillay admitted that the Sri Lankan government has been engaging with her and the government has invited her to visit the island.
“It is true that I have an invitation from them extending for two years now. By mutual agreement we stayed the visit pending the release of the LLRC report and pending the report from my technical mission and I look forward to discussions with the Permanent (Sri Lankan) Mission here for my further visit and hopefully also the visits of eight special rapporteurs who have requested visits,” she noted.
“So I welcome the engagement by the Human Rights Council to monitor domestic processes especially regarding accountability,” she said.
Sri Lanka’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) will be considered at the UNHRC session on March 15.
The UNHRC is to consider the report of the HR High Commissioner on advice and technical assistance to the Government of Sri Lanka on promoting reconciliation and accountability on March 20.