Several countries have reaffirmed their commitment to the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka and its discussion in September, during the interactive debate on High Commissioner Zeid Al Hussain’s annual report on Thursday at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
After Sri Lanka was mentioned by several countries and NGOs, the high commissioner in his concluding remarks explained how the decision to defer the OISL report was only taken after “careful and deep consultation” and reiterated the report would be released in September.
The US said it hopes to see evidence of the Sri Lankan government’s action on human rights, reconciliation and accountability when the UNHRC looks at the OISL report in September.
The US said “We welcome the High Commissioner’s leadership in engaging with the Government of Sri Lanka, which led to the extension of the release of the OHCHR investigation’s report. We look forward to receiving the report before this Council’s September session and hope to see evidence in it of the Sri Lankan government’s actions to promote human rights, reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka.
The EU said it urges Sri Lanka to deliver on commitments to engage with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. It said “The EU supports the deferral of Sri Lanka being discussed at the UNHRC and the publication of the OHCHR investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) report until September. The EU would like to welcome the work of OISL and to reaffirm its commitment to OISL and its final report.”
The UK said it supported the decision to defer the report until September and expressed the extra time gives an opportunity for the government to deliver on its commitments to make domestic progress on accountability and reconciliation.
“The UK supported your decision to defer discussion of Sri Lanka and the publication of the OHCHR investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) report until September. The extra time will create an opportunity for the new Sri Lankan government to deliver on tis commitment to engage with the OHCHR and make credible domestic progress on the crucial matters of reconciliation and accountability. The UK would like to reaffirm its commitment to OISL and final report.
Canada underlined it “continued commitment” to a discussion of the report in September and encouraged Sri Lanka to fulfil its commitment to cooperate with the OHCHR in fulfilling human rights obligations and ensuring accountability and reconciliation.
Canada said “We recognise that this decision was not taken lightly. Canada underlines our continued commitment to a full discussion of the report at the 30th session of the Council. We encourage Sri Lanka to foster a transparent, responsive and pluralistic government, and to fulfil its commitment to cooperate with the OHCHR in fulfilling its human rights obligations and ensuring accountability and reconciliation.”
Japan said it expects a “constructive dialogue” takes place between Sri Lanka and the OHCHR and that Japan supports the decision to defer the submission of the report on Sri Lanka, based on the announcement of the new Sri Lankan government’s policy of engagement with the international community.
Albania said it looks forward to the publication of the report in September and welcomed reassurances by the government it would enhance cooperation with human rights mechanisms.
“Albania would like to renew its support to the council’s decision on the OHCHR’s report on Sri Lanka. We look forward to the publication in September 2015. Albania welcomes the assurances expressed by the new government of Sri Lanka to restore democracy, protect the rule of law and enhance cooperation with human rights mechanisms.”
Australia welcomed President Sirisena’s commitment to human rights, reconciliation and accountability. “As a longstanding friend of Sri Lanka, Australia welcomes President Sirisena’s commitment to human rights, reconciliation and accountability, and to cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner. We look forward to seeing real progress on all these fronts,” the Australian statement said.
South Africa’s Minister of International Relations Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, speaking at the Human Rights Council on Tuesday, said only the people of Sri Lanka can determine their destiny, with the support of the international community.
“We are encouraged by the recent developments in Sri Lanka and recognise that it is only the people of Sri Lanka that can determine their destiny. The international community should stand ready to support them,” she said.
The justice minister of Namibia, Utoni Nujoma told the Council, his country supports Sri Lanka to find a sustainable and permanent solution.
“Namibia keenly observes the positive developments in Sri Lanka and supports all Sri Lankans on their journey to find a sustainable and permanent solution,” he said.
Pasumai Thaayagam, an NGO based in India, called on the High Commissioner and the Council to ensure that the next six months are used to release a stronger and more comprehensive report, while also holding Sri Lanka accountable to address immediate and pressing human rights concerns in the spirit in which the delay was granted.
Human Rights Watch called on Sri Lanka to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act and prevent torture or ill-treatment of detainees.
The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum Asia), called for sustained “international scrutiny” until tangible results were achieved on the ground, urged Sri Lanka to “fully demilitarise” the North-Eas, release political prisoners and allow the OHCHR investigation into Sri Lanka (OISL) team full access