The Canadian Tamil Congress called on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to ensure an upcoming report on mass atrocities committed in Sri Lanka “reveals the full force and mandate” of the UN Human Rights Council resolution that commissioned it.
In March 2014, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted resolution 25/1 entitled “Promoting Reconciliation, Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka.” This resolution requested the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, “to undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of Human Rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka.” As the HRC sits June 15, 2015 for its 29th regular session, Tamils from Sri Lanka and around the world are hopeful that this session will be used to strengthen the report.
Though the report was due to be released in March 2015 at the 28th session, In February 2015, HRC Chief His Excellency Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, recommended the deferral of the report until the September session. While acknowledging it was a difficult decision to defer the report “one time only”, the High Commissioner stressed the possibility that new information may emerge which would strengthen the report. We understand that since then, new information has been provided by various parties. Stating also that he has received a clear commitment from the newly elected Sri Lankan government to cooperate with the office on a whole range of Human Rights issues – which the previous government absolutely refused to do – the High Commissioner was keen on engaging with the new government to ensure those commitments translate into actions.
We take note of the following in the High Commissioner’s release in February: “I am acutely aware that many victims of human rights violations in Sri Lanka, including those who have bravely come forward to provide information to the inquiry team, might see this is as the first step towards shelving, or diluting, a report they have long feared they would never see. I fully understand those fears and deep anxieties, given the history of failed or obstructed domestic human rights inquiries in Sri Lanka, and the importance of this international investigation being carried out by my team at the UN Human Rights Office.”
“There should be no misunderstanding,” the High Commissioner continued. “I give my personal, absolute and unshakable commitment that the report will be published by September. Like my predecessors, I believe that one of the most important duties of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is to act as a strong voice on behalf of victims. I want this report to have the maximum possible impact in ensuring a genuine and credible process of accountability and reconciliation in which the rights of victims to truth, justice and reparations are finally respected.”
While there has been doubt cast by a few as to whether the report will be postponed, the Canadian Tamil Congress feels that the Commissioner will stay true to his word and release report come September. In that same vein, we strongly request the OHCHR to do its utmost to ensure the September report reveals the full force and mandate of the April 2014 resolution.(CTC)