Kerry says Sri Lanka must take meaningful action on reconciliation and accountability

kerry         US Secretary of State John Kerry says the US sponsored resolution adopted at the UN Human Rights Council today reaffirmed that Sri Lanka must take meaningful action on reconciliation and accountability in order to move forward.

He says the vote in the UN Human Rights Council encourages the Government of Sri Lanka to continue on the path toward lasting peace and prosperity following decades of civil war and instability.

“This resolution, which builds on a similar 2012 resolution, reaffirmed that Sri Lanka must take meaningful action on reconciliation and accountability in order to move forward. The United States, together with international partners, calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to fulfill its public commitments to its own people on these longstanding issues,” he said.

Kerry noted that while some important progress has been made in Sri Lanka, there is much work still to be done.

“We look to the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and to reverse recent negative developments on rule of law and human rights,” he added.

Kerry says the United States stands ready to assist Sri Lanka and looks looks forward to continuing its engagement with the Government of Sri Lanka and strengthening its friendship with the Sri Lankan people.

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) today adopted the US sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka with 25 in favor, 13 against it and 8 abstentions.

The US Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, said the resolution should be seen as both an expression of support by the international community to the people of Sri Lanka, and as an expression of encouragement and concern to the government of Sri Lanka.  The international community has sent a message that lasting peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka will require meaningful steps toward truth and accountability.

Speaking to the media after the resolution was passed  she said that  the international community came together to call upon the government of Sri Lanka to fulfill its stated obligation to its own people to take concrete steps to move forward to address outstanding issues related to truth and reconciliation, and by meeting its obligation on accountability.

“The resolution relied upon the detailed report of the High Commissioner Navi Pillay, which made clear that Sri Lanka must take meaningful action on reconciliation and accountability, including the establishment of a truth-seeking mechanism as an integral part of transitional justice.  The resolution passed today also addresses the growing concerns over the deteriorating human rights situation in Sri Lanka, including reports of forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, as well as intimidations and reprisals against human rights defenders.” she said.

She noted that over the past year the United States and many others have expressed strong concern over the lack of process on vital issues in Sri Lanka as well as backsliding on respect for human rights and the rule of law.

“The United States, along with 40 co-sponsors, put forward this resolution in a spirit of friendship toward the people of Sri Lanka, but also out of genuine concern about the lack of follow-through on the promises by the government of Sri Lanka to carry out a credible form of domestic accountability.  We are concerned about some worrying signs of back sliding with respect to the rule of law and protection of human rights in the current situation as well,” she added.

She said that the the resolution, which includes specific follow up actions including an interim update by the High Commissioner in September and a comprehensive report in March 2014 by the Office of the High Commissioner, is a strong signal that the international community intends to remain seized with the situation in Sri Lanka.  (Colombo Gazette)

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