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UN’s human rights chief hints on exercising universal jurisdiction against Sri Lanka

The UN’s human rights chief has warned ┬áSri Lanka that its failure to investigate the crimes of its security forces against Tamils would lead to the exercise of universal jurisdiction.

Delivering his opening statement at the 36 session of the UN Human Rights Council on Monday, His Royal Highness Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said:

‘In Sri Lanka, I urge the Government to swiftly operationalize the Office of Missing Persons and to move faster on other essential confidence building measures, such as release of land occupied by the military, and resolving long-pending cases registered under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. I repeat my request for that Act to be replaced with a new law in line with international human rights standards. In the North, protests by victims indicate their growing frustration over the slow pace of reforms. I encourage the Government to act on its commitment in Resolution 30/1 to establish transitional justice mechanisms, and to establish a clear timeline and benchmarks for the implementation of these and other commitments.

This should not be viewed by the Government as a box-ticking exercise to placate the Council, but as an essential undertaking to address the rights of all its people. The absence of credible action in Sri Lanka to ensure accountability for alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law makes the exercise of universal jurisdiction even more necessary.’

For the full text of Al Hussein’s statement, please click here.