UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka meets Colombo’s requirements

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC)’s resolution on the rights situation in Sri Lanka, which was passed in Geneva on Thursday through consensus, meets Colombo’s requirements.

Resolution 40/L.1 not only gives two years’ extension for the implementation of resolution 30/1 of 2015, but also says that the recommendations will be implemented “with the concurrence of the Sri Lankan government.”

This gives Colombo the right to decide what will be implemented and to what extent a recommendation will be implemented. It gives room to the Lankan government to fulfill its wish not to implement the recommendation for a Judicial Mechanism with foreign judges and lawyers to try alleged cases of war crimes.

Relevant Provisions of Resolution A/HRC/40/L.1:

It reaffirms Human Rights Council resolutions 30/1 of 1 October 2015 and 34/1 of 23 March 2017 on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka,

It welcomes the establishment of the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) in September 2017 and the appointment of its Commissioners in February 2018 and the assumption of its work to fully implement its mandate,

Welcomes the visits made by the Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter terrorism from 10 to 14 July 2017, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence from 10 to 23 October 2017, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention from 4 to 15 December 2017 and the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt on the full enjoyment of human rights from 3 to 11 September 2018,

Notes with appreciation the return of some private land previously occupied by the military to civilian ownership while recalling repeated public commitments by the Government of Sri Lanka to release all private land occupied by the military, to enable local populations to resume livelihoods.

Notes the other steps taken by the Government of Sri Lanka to implement Human Rights Council resolution 30/1, including progress towards establishing an Office on Reparations and the submission to cabinet of a concept paper on a Bill to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the proposed repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1978 and the preparation of a draft Counter Terrorism Act, while reiterating in this context the need for further significant progress and encouraging in this regard the adoption of a time-bound implementation strategy.

It requests the Government of Sri Lanka to “implement fully” the measures identified by the Council in its resolution 30/1 that are outstanding.

It requests the Office of the High Commissioner and relevant special procedure mandate holders, to continue to strengthen their advice and technical assistance on the promotion and protection of human rights and truth, justice, reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka but this has to be done “ in consultation with and with the concurrence of the Government of Sri Lanka.”

Provision For Govt’s Concurrence

The expression “in consultation with and with the concurrence of the Government of Sri Lanka,” is crucial from the point of view of the government of Sri Lanka.

It means that Sri Lanka has room to reject a Judicial Mechanism with foreign judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers as enjoined by the basic resolution 30/1 of 2015.

Foreign Minister’s Assertions

After the resolution was adopted without a vote, the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana, said that the passing of the resolution is a mark of recognition of Sri Lanka’s political commitment and the progressive steps already taken by the Government since 2015 towards ethnic reconciliation, assurance of human rights and accountability.

“We have to set our priorities right and we are committed to finding innovative and pragmatic solutions to protect the country’s national interest and the well-being of all Sri Lankans alike, guided by the provisions of the supreme law of the land – The Constitution.”

“In implementing the resolution, Sri Lanka will be guided by the constitution, national interest and the well being of all,” Marapana said.

“Sri Lanka’s co-sponsorship of this year’s Resolution assures to all concerned persons, the Sri Lankan society at large, and to all our interlocutors outside the country, that we will continue to move forward within these parameters, to ensure eventual closure,” he added.

“We welcome the assistance and cooperation we have received from partners as required, and invite the OHCHR to engage closely with the relevant local institutions and independent bodies including the National Human Rights Commission, in verifying facts on ground, which will help OHCHR to provide more objective and realistic assessment on the progress made in Sri Lanka and on its genuine challenges, to this Council next year,” he added. (Newsin.asia)

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