51st UNHRC session in Geneva

UN Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif stated that they encourage the new Sri Lankan Government to embark on a national dialogue to advance human rights and reconciliation and to carry out the deeper institutional, democratic and security sector reforms needed to restore the independence of key institutions, to combat impunity, to prevent the recurrence of human rights violations, and to tackle the economic crisis.

Al-Nashif made these observations presenting the comprehensive report of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka at the 51st session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Al-Nashif noted that the broad-based demands by Sri Lankans from all communities, in particular youth, for accountability and democratic reforms present an important starting point for a new and common vision for the future of Sri Lanka.

“The Government has a fresh opportunity to steer the country on the path towards justice and reconciliation and to address the legacy of conflict. I welcome in this regard the tone set by the President in his first speech to Parliament in which he recognised the diversity of the Sri Lankan nation and promised constitutional reforms. Also, I was pleased to discuss with the Government potential areas of cooperation, including the drafting of a new counter-terrorism law to replace the PTA and in the area of transitional justice and the strengthening ofinstitutions.” Al-Nashif observed.

Meanwhile, Al-Nashif pointed out that the OHCHR is calling for an independent and transparent investigation, with international assistance should it be necessary, to pursue further lines of inquiry into the Easter Sunday terror attacks in 2019. Al-Nashif noted that despite some suspects being charged, there has been no further progress to establish the truth about the bombings of 2019.

“It is the hope of this office that the Government will now seize the opportunity offered by the changed circumstances in the country to re-embark on these fundamental processes that promote national reconciliation by ensuring accountability for past human rights violations and abuses.

In the absence of current and effective accountability options in Sri Lanka, the High Commissioner has called on States to pursue alternate strategies to advance the accountability at the international level, including through consideration of targeted sanctions against alleged perpetrators as well as cooperation to initiate prosecutions on the basis of extraterritorial and universal jurisdiction,” Al-Nashif also stated.

 

 

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