Exercising universal jurisdiction was “even more necessary”.

Addressing the opening of the 36th session UN Human Rights Council session, on 11 September 2017, in Geneva,  United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said Sri Lanka has to live up to commitments it had made to the international community.  High Commissioner Al Hussein also called on the Government to “swiftly operationalize the Office of Missing Persons and to move faster on other essential confidence building measures, such as release of land occupied by the military, and resolving long-pending cases registered under the Prevention of Terrorism Act”.

He urged the Government to swiftly operationalise the Office of Missing Persons and to move faster on other essential confidence building measures, such as release of land occupied by the military, and resolving long-pending cases registered under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. I repeat my request for that Act to be replaced with a new law in line with international human rights standards. In the North, protests by victims indicate their growing frustration over the slow pace of reforms. I encourage the Government to act on its commitment in Resolution 30/1 to establish transitional justice mechanisms, and to establish a clear timeline and benchmarks for the implementation of these and other commitments.

This should not be viewed by the Government as a box-ticking exercise to placate the Council, but as an essential undertaking to address the rights of all its people. The absence of credible action in Sri Lanka to ensure accountability for alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law makes the exercise of universal jurisdiction even more necessary.

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