Prince Zeid wants credible mechanisms ahead of report to the September session

Prince Zeid  Addressing the opening of the 29th UN Human Rights Council Session in Geneva on 15 June 2015 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussain, in his opening statement said “that the new Government in Sri Lanka has passed a constitutional amendment which, if implemented appropriately, brings renewed hope for democracy and the rule of law.”

OHCHR will remain very engaged in discussions with the Sri Lankan authorities on the need for transparent and inclusive processes to develop credible mechanisms for accountability and reconciliation, ahead of my report to the September session. I encourage the Government to consult broadly with all political parties, civil society, and above all victims and their families, to ensure full national support and ownership of these processes.

The United States commended the people of Sri Lanka for restoring democratic institutions and combating corruption. In a statement to the UN Human Rights Council at the 29th session, the US delegation urged the Sri Lankan Government to continue on its path of ensuring accountability and reconciliation.

The US delegation also said that it looks forward to reading the report on Sri Lanka by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in August.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for an international accountability process to address international humanitarian law violations in Sri Lanka, in a statement to the UN Human Rights Council.“This session marks a midway point in the time given to the Sri Lankan government to demonstrate its willingness to cooperate on human rights issues,” said Human Rights Watch.

The statement said, “In establishing a credible and transparent justice and accountability process, the new government in Sri Lanka should ensure genuine consultations with those affected by violations, ensure that any mechanism be either international or at a minimum, include a majority of international judges and prosecutors, take immediate steps towards resolving key outstanding issues, and keep its promise to the UN to fully cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and allow it full access to any new or additional information it may require”.

The UNHRC mandated an investigation into reports of international humanitarian law committed during the final phases of the armed conflict on the island, where tens of thousands of Tamils were massacred. The UN report, being compiled by the OHCHR, is due to be released in August.

HRW also highlighted steps that Sri Lanka must take including: “clarifying the fate of the disappeared; addressing land issues; and the immediate ending of continuing forms of harassment, violence and unjustified surveillance of civil society and victims of rights abuses”.

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