HRW wants follow-up resolution

The global rights organization, Human Rights Watch (HRW) today called on the United Nations Human Right Council (UNHRC) member states to bring a credible follow-up resolution to the consensus resolution 30/1 adopted by the UNHRC in October 2015. In a letter addresses to the Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the UN Human Rights Council, the HRW listed a number of key elements that should be included in a follow-up resolution on Sri Lanka.

The HRW in its letter sought the member states’ support in ensuring that the upcoming consideration of Sri Lanka’s progress toward implementing its commitments under UNHRC resolution 30/1 accurately and substantively reflects the situation within the country including both progress to date and the significant challenges remaining. The resolution 30/1 contains 25 key undertakings by the Sri Lankan government across a range of human rights issues.

The organization in its letter highlighted the positive steps taken by the government to date. Four UN Special Procedures, plus the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, have visited Sri Lanka since the resolution was adopted. Their visits received government cooperation, and they were unhindered in their movements and meetings. Two nationwide consultations have been carried out, one on constitutional reform and the other on transitional justice. The government has released some reports from previous government commissions of inquiry into wartime abuses, and established coordination offices to deal with transitional justice and reconciliation issues. Importantly, the government in May 2016 ratified the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. While acknowledging the positive developments, the HRW expressed concern about the government’s actual willingness to fully implement all aspects of resolution 30/1.

Pointing out that a key element of the resolution consists of transitional justice promises, including a special court with international judges and prosecutors to try cases of war crimes by all parties to the conflict, an office on missing and disappeared persons, a truth-seeking and reconciliation mechanism, and a reparations mechanism, the HRW said the government has made only “halting progress” towards fulfilling these commitments. An additional note of concern on Sri Lanka’s progress on transitional justice is its ongoing resistance to any foreign involvement in the four mechanisms, the HRW said.

“We understand that the government has had only 16 months to fulfill the many pledges contained in resolution 30/1. However, government statements and inaction increasingly point to a dwindling political will to implement the resolution’s key components,” the group noted. The HRW anticipates that the High Commissioner will present a robust and substantive report on the progress towards implementation of the resolution, and the many challenges remaining.

The global right organization said the follow-up resolution at minimum should among others, reaffirm resolution 30/1, call on the Sri Lankan government to implement the recommendations in the previous resolution and in the High Commissioner’s report, develop a timetable for implementing the recommendations taking into account the need for an integrated approach to reforms and transitional justice, and Maintain OHCHR reporting, and further Human Rights Council engagement, across a suitable timeframe.

“Anything less would fall substantially short of the expectations of victims, and risk undermining faith in the process long before the promises of reconciliation, justice and reform have been translated into reality,” the HRW said.

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