UK NGO calls for pressure on Sri Lanka to cooperate with UNHRC

UN (OHCHR)Liberation, a NGO based in the UK, called for the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to exert pressure on Sri Lanka to cooperate with the UN inquiry into mass atrocities, ensure that there was adequate witness protection and cease the genocidal processes dismantling the Tamil homeland in the North-East.

Speaking in an interactive dialogue on the report of the Special Rapporteur on Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Recurrence, a Liberation Representative, highlighting Sri Lanka’s repeated refusal to co-operate with the UN, said,

“We urge this council to exert pressure on Sri Lanka to cooperate with the UN inquiry and to ensure the safety of witnesses, as the only means of achieving meaningful accountability and justice for the killing of tens of thousands of Tamils at the end of the armed conflict.”

Highlighting the ongoing “militarisation, colonisation, and dismantling of the social and economic structure in the North-East,” the speaker, went on to call for the end of genocidal processes against Tamils in the North-East for true reconciliation on the island.

Full text of statement reproduced below.

Liberation thanks the Special Rapporteurs for their work and would like to highlight concern regarding the member state of Sri Lanka.

We express deep concern at the Sri Lankan state’s repeated refusal to co-operate with the OHCHR inquiry into mass atrocities, including Sri Lanka’s reiteration of that to the Council this week, where they rejected the new Human Rights High Commissioner’s call for co-operation.

The Sri Lankan state has sought only to obstruct the process the UN process towards accountability and justice.

The government has denied visas to UN investigators, it has allowed the intimidation of witnesses in the presence of international diplomats and has publicly discussed potential punitive action against those who work with the UN. This intimidation, as pointed out by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, is deeply alarming.

The prominent human rights campaigner, Balendran Jeyakumari, who was arrested in the run up to this Council’s March session, remains in custody.

Activists and rights groups who worked towards the set up of a UN inquiry have since been targeted by the Sri Lankan state. Tamil human rights campaigners from member states world wide have been criminalised and their organisations proscribed. Sri Lanka’s MoD has placed severe restrictions on NGOs in the island.

These acts once again underscore the former OHCHR conclusions highlighting a lack of political will in Sri Lanka to seek accountability, justice and reconciliation.

Sri Lanka’s claims of introducing domestic steps towards accountability, reconciliation and a bill for witness protection, belie the ongoing intimidation of witnesses and Tamils who speak to international officials, as well as the lack of judicial independence and rule of law across the island.

We urge this Council to exert pressure on Sri Lanka to cooperate with the UN inquiry and to ensure the safety of witnesses, as the only means of achieving meaningful accountability and justice for the killing of tens of thousands of Tamils at the end of the armed conflict.

However, Sri Lanka’s rejection of this, is not the only barrier to accountability, justice and reparation on the island.

The state’s systematic militarisation, colonisation and dismantling of the social and economic structure of the North-East serves to ensure that Tamil people remain subjugated, and their homeland erased. This genocidal process must stop, and a situation of normalcy must be established for the island to see true reconciliation and stability, through a political solution that benefits all the people on the island and addresses the grievances and aspirations of the Tamils in the North-East.

Read Statement here

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