UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says Sri Lankan domestic mechanisms a failure

Thursday February 27, 2020

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has rejected Sri Lanka's pledge to establish another commission of inquiry, stating Sri Lanka's domestic accountability mechanisms are failures.


Responding to the Sri Lankan government's decision to formally withdraw from UNHRC Resolution 30/1, Ms Michelle Bachelet said on Thursday:


'This move risks setting back efforts to advance reconciliation, accountability and human rights. The State must work for all its people and the needs of all communities, particularly the minorities, must be acknowledged and addressed. I urge the Government to preserve and build upon the gains which have been made over the last few years. In particular, I encourage the Government to ensure the Office on Missing Persons and the Office of Reparations are provided with political and resource support. The families of missing persons from all communities deserve justice and redress.


And the space for civil society and independent media should be protected. I am therefore troubled by the recent trend towards moving civilian functions under the Ministry of Defence or retired military officers, and renewed reports of surveillance and harassment of human rights defenders, journalists and victims.


The increasing levels of hate speech, and security and policy measures appear to be discriminately and disproportionately directed against minorities, both Tamil and Muslim.


Systemic barriers that continue to exist within the criminal justice system remain an impediment to real justice.  

Domestic processes have consistently failed to deliver accountability in the past and I am not convinced the appointment of yet another Commission of Inquiry will advance this agenda.  


As a result, victims remain denied justice and Sri Lankans from all communities have no guarantee that past patterns of human rights violations will not recur.


I urge the Council to remain alert to this situation in terms of prevention and to explore all possible avenues for advancing accountability.'


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