Much remains to be done

unhrcThe European Union (EU) called on the  Government to ensure international participation in the accountability process.

Roderick Van Schreven, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands said that “Much remains to be done to fulfil the commitments it has made at this Council and we urge the Government to fully comply with these commitments, including those relating to reconciliation, justice and accountability. It will be essential for the Government to conduct and facilitate consultations which are inclusive (also from a gender perspective) with all affected communities as it goes about establishing new mechanisms for truth-seeking, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence. International participation in the accountability mechanism will also be important in ensuring that the process is both credible and perceived as such by all sides in line with the October commitments,” he said. The EU urged the Government to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act as a matter of priority and abide by the National Human Rights Commission’s directives on its implementation.

“We also call on the Government to continue taking steps to build the confidence of communities and normalize life in the North and East, including accelerating the prosecution or release of detainees, preventing and prosecuting sexual and gender based violence committed by members of the security forces, removal of the military from involvement in civilian activities, and returning the remaining land to its rightful owners,” the Ambassador said. He said that Sri Lanka has come a long way through the Human Rights Council and the EU confirms its readiness to continue to support the Government in the full implementation of resolution 30/1.

Making a statement at the United Nations Human Rights Council the United Kingdom said it remains committed to the full implementation of resolution 30/1 and stand ready to help the Sri Lankan Government to this end.  The UK said “We welcome the Sri Lankan Government’s continuing determination to address the legacy of conflict through the implementation of resolution 30/1. A comprehensive approach to dealing with the past, restoring confidence in state institutions, and developing a just political settlement for all its people is essential.”

However, the UK pointed out that much still remains to be done by the Sri Lankan Government to fulfil all the commitments it has made. These steps will require courageous and determined political leadership, it added. The UK mission stressed that the government should release more civilian land occupied by the military in the north and repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act as soon as possible. “We urge the Government to deliver on its commitment to devolve political authority through constitutional reform, and to put in place credible transitional justice mechanisms underpinned by meaningful consultations and effective witness protection,” it said.

Making a statement at the General Debate of the  32 session at the UN Human Rights Council, leader of the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam said that President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickemesinghe have clearly ruled out foreign participation in the accountability mechanism.

Ponnambalam accused the Government of “stridently backtracking” on most fundamental matter of the UN resolution for a credible accountability process despite the tremendous concession granted to the Sri Lankan government. The TNPF  leader urged the UNHRC member States “to take steps to ensure foreign participation” in the war crime probe.

He said that his party welcomes the High Commissioner’s statement that he remains convinced that international participation in the accountability mechanisms would be a necessary guarantee for the independence and impartiality of the process as Sri Lanka’s judicial institutions lack credibility.

“In fact it is precisely for this reason that the Tamil people, who are the overwhelming victims of the mass crimes committed by the Sri Lankan state, have consistently insisted on the need for an International Accountability Mechanism as opposed to domestic ownership of such a mechanism”.

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