4 October, 2022

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Rights Groups Urge Strong UN Resolution On Sri Lanka: UNHRC Should Enhance Mandates, Address Growing Abuses

The United Nations Human Rights Council should adopt a strong resolution on Sri Lanka that strengthens current UN mandates on accountability for crimes under international law and monitors the country’s deteriorating human rights situation, four international human rights organizations said in a letter to council member states published today. The resolution should also call upon Sri Lanka to address ongoing abuses, including by ending use of the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Sri Lanka has been suffering a severe economic, political, and human rights crisis. The former president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, resigned in July 2022 following massive protests, and his successor, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has used abusive security measures to suppress freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. In a wide-ranging report released on September 6, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said, “Sri Lankans came together … in a mass protest movement to demand greater transparency, accountability for corruption and economic mismanagement and increased participation in democratic life.” She called upon the government to respect the rights of protesters, end impunity for past violations, and address the root causes of the current crisis.

“For many years the victims of past abuses in Sri Lanka have demanded justice, while successive governments have broken promises, blocked accountability, and promoted those implicated in war crimes to high office,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The UN Human Rights Council should adopt a resolution on Sri Lanka that presses the government to uphold accountability and the rule of law.”

At the 51st session of the Human Rights Council, which began on September 12, member states will review and update a March 2021 resolution that established a UN accountability project to collect and prepare evidence of international crimes committed in Sri Lanka for use in future prosecutions, and mandated the UN to monitor and report on the current situation in the country. It is essential to renew and strengthen those mandates, including with additional resources, Amnesty International, FORUM ASIA, Human Rights Watch, and the International Commission of Jurists said in their letter.

In her report, the UN High Commissioner described how “deepening militarization and lack of transparency and accountability in governance … have embedded impunity for serious human rights violations and created an environment for corruption and the abuse of power.” In the absence of accountability within Sri Lanka, she said that UN member states should prosecute Sri Lankans accused of committing international crimes in foreign courts under the principle of universal jurisdiction, and support efforts to trace and freeze stolen assets held abroad. The high commissioner also called for an international role in investigations into the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, which killed over 250 people, noting that there remain unanswered questions over the role of the Sri Lankan security forces.

“The high commissioner has presented clear findings that require urgent international action to end impunity and provide for justice to Sri Lankans,” said Massimo Frigo, UN representative and senior legal adviser at the International Commission of Jurists. “A decade of Human Rights Council engagement on Sri Lanka has been a source of hope for victims and resulted in sporadic and unfulfilled pledges to reform, the council needs to give the issue sustained attention.”

Since becoming president on July 21, President Wickremesinghe has sent the military to violently disperse protesters and arrest scores of people accused of participating in protests. He has ordered the use of the notorious Prevention of Terrorism Act to detain three student leaders without charge. The previous foreign minister, G.L. Peiris, told the Human Rights Council in June that the government would observe a moratorium on the use of that law, while the current foreign minister, Ali Sabry, then justice minister, gave the same assurances to Sri Lanka’s parliament in March.

On September 8, President Wickremesinghe appointed three people implicated in human rights abuses as government ministers. Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, known as Pillayan, is a former member of a separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) unit who later joined a pro-government armed group, both of which committed abductions and recruiting of child soldiers. In 2001, the attorney general dropped charges against him in connection with the 2005 murder of a parliamentarian. Another newly appointed minister, Lohan Ratwatte, resigned as prisons minister in September 2021 after threatening prisoners at gunpoint. A third, Sanath Nishantha, is currently under police investigation in connection with a violent attack on anti-government protesters on May 9.

“These ministerial appointments show that the Wickremesinghe administration cannot be expected to credibly pursue accountability for human rights violations or uphold the rule of law,” said Ahmed Adam, UN advocacy programme manager at FORUM-ASIA. “The alarming situation in the country today calls for robust and clear-eyed resolution from the Human Rights Council to protect the rights of people in Sri Lanka.”

In their letter to member states, the groups said that the new Human Rights Council resolution should address threats to human rights in Sri Lanka and violations connected to the country’s present crisis. The resolution should call on the government to:

* Respect the rights of people to freely and peacefully protest and express their views without fear of reprisal or arrest;

* End the harassment, intimidation, and arbitrary arrest of people believed to have participated in or supported recent protests;

* Repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act, issue an immediate moratorium on its use in the interim period, review the detention of those held under the law, immediately release all those not facing internationally recognizable charges, and ensure that everyone detained under the law, including those in pretrial detention, are tried promptly and fairly in a regular court; and

* Restore the independence of the judiciary and Human Rights Commission.

“Time and again we have seen successive Sri Lankan governments make commitments to the Human Rights Council that are then broken or disavowed,” said Yamini Mishra, South Asia director at Amnesty International. “Member states should press Sri Lanka on its commitments and call for action now to end the abuses that are taking place, while renewing and enhancing the UN’s mandates to monitor the situation and pursue accountability for past abuses.”

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Latest comments

  • 20
    3

    A lawless country now bankrupt and failed. No country should give a penny, unless and until Lanka address root causes of current crisis. It’s time for UN and UNHRC to put an end to this misery.

    • 8
      7

      But the US and India are most keen to help out.
      Very naughty of them.

      • 11
        1

        Aiyooooooooooooo

        Could anyone especially the Mao’s lackeys explain as to when exactly Sri Lanka became China’s neighbour?

        Ambassador Chen Xu must have done a good hand job, pulling the island all the way to South China seas and beyond. He also made the same claim last year as well.

        In fact the distance between Beijing and Colombo is about 3209 miles / 5164.38 km / 2788.54 nautical miles,

        Lets see what sort of bull the serious balls carriers ….would deploy?

        • 1
          9

          Glass ball lessons in drawing a tangent?
          Try harder.

          • 9
            1

            For a change b…. carriers should focus their mind on the facts rather than the ball they have been carrying.

            We see the suffering of people who have been loyally carrying b***s for more than 50 years. Poor chaps enjoying pain, Masochists.

            • 2
              10

              Which country not suffering in this world, Native Vedda?

              • 6
                1

                N. Pererasssssss

                “Which country not suffering in this world, Native Vedda?”

                I don’t know. However I do know that this island has been suffering since 1948, simply because my people let you live here. in this island out of goodness of their heart. Its time you lot left the country.

            • 2
              8

              Native Vedda, what type of ball carried war criminal Tony Blair? Are you blind in this world? Still, UNHRC sleeping?

              • 4
                1

                Go and polish the Tony’s shoe and the rest

            • 6
              0

              Lankan mindset is that to, blame others for our own stupidity. It’s always some one else and never us. After forcing our self to be a target, that too for more than a decade, does it matter who voted for or against in Geneva. ?? Lanka is dealing in Geneva as they deal with every thing else, back at home, expecting a different result. People love talking about countries showing interest in our assets which are actually liabilities. Who wants ownership of liability ? Just because some plane stopped over to refuel,(decades ago ) does it still make Lanka a strategic location, anymore?? The rules of war games are changing, where planes can refuel mid air ,fly miles further without refueling and in future maybe fought without planes. For a change, if Lankans are better off focusing within instead of others. WB says 40% of the funds are played out even before the commencement of project. People knowingly elect the corrupt and then they readily admit to it. We actually are nothing, owe nothing for anyone to have interest in us.What ever strategy it may be, why would anyone want a loser (liability) ??A retarded mind with a self inflated ego, unable to see failures but ready to blame others for own stupidity.

              • 4
                1

                Chiv,
                “Just because some plane stopped over to refuel,(decades ago ) does it still make Lanka a strategic location,”
                Totally true. Our people only remember what’s favourable to them. Trinco might have been important 100 years ago in the age of dreadnoughts and puny aircraft. Also, the major British
                base was Singapore, not Trinco. But people forget that the Japanese came all the way from Japan and wiped out whatever the Royal Navy had parked in Trinco. Those who live in the past are fated to re-enact it.

        • 2
          0

          NV,
          Good morning,
          The Chinese HC has measured the distance between southernmost point of Tibet – which is now part of China, notwithstanding the disagreement of the Dalai Lama, who is not recognised by China as HoS of Tibet – (North of Sikkim/Bhutan to Sri Lanka, which makes it to about 1100 miles, to declare that China Is SL close Neighbour??) They are very smart in convoluting the entire conversation to suit them??!!

          • 2
            0

            Mahila

            How about the distances between Hambantota Harbour and Sri Lanka, or Colombo Port City?

            • 1
              0

              Native, I was thinking of PC too. For all purpose it’e theirs.

      • 2
        13

        The Fake Human Rights show sans Economic Rights and Debt Justice has started in Geneva, with USAID funded NGO civil society that organized the Aragalaya capitalizing on peoples suffering to enable the Staged Default for IMF to take over Lanka,…
        Samantha Power is also doing a little jig with paid for NGOs in Colombo! But China’s comments at the Fake Human Rights show in Geneva tells us that there are formidable Asian forces challenging Western hegemony in Sri Lanka which could become like Ukraine!
        Meanwhile, US-puppet Bondscam Ranil Rajapakse was seen reading out his Sri Lanka Report like a School Boy trying to please the Head Mistress Samantha Power , while the IMF and the Colonial Club of Paris tries to force India and China, with are Sovereign States to sit with third rate US-EU Bondtraders and Vulture funds like BLACKROCK and Hamilton Reserve Bank that have debt trapped Sri Lanka to join their fake Paris Club Debt restructuring project. But China and India, which are Sovereign state have told the Colonial Paris CLub to fly a kite and will not join its Economic Hitmen like Lazard, Clifford and Chance.

      • 4
        0

        U.S foreign relations committee chair Bob. Menendez joined by leading senators Leahy, Durbin and Booker introduced a resolution calling for a comprehensive international approach to address Lanka’s current political and economic crisis including challenges related to poor governance, economic policies and CORRUPTION under the Rajapaksa family rule. One of the most senior and respected senator Patrick Leahy said “Rajapaksa family enriched themselves at the expense of Lankan people , ruthlessly silencing their opponents, inciting ethnic tensions and leaving the country in economic shambles”. Senator Booker said ” Lankans have send a firm message and I stand with them and support their peaceful efforts to address to their needs. The international committee must continue to push for justice and accountability for human rights violations committed during the war to help the people/country move forward’.

    • 9
      2

      “A lawless country now bankrupt and failed.”
      So What? it is a game plan between Rajapaksas, Ranils, India, China and West.None of these are worried about whether this country is failed or bankgruptcy or people are poor or rich. If India and West help Ranil, China will help Rajapaksa. They all dump Sri Lanka with their waste to people and dollars to Ranil.

  • 1
    2

    Chefs limited: But could Tastys serve dim sum too for men with acquired taste’s.

    Between western preaching and Mao’s teachings, “the good, the bad, and the ugly” is a film not meant for the faint at heart.

  • 3
    10

    Ranil is scheduled to attend the Queen’s funeral. Does he have any plans to appoint Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardene as Acting President to save both positions? There is a new move to unseat Ranil, presumably led by India and supported by Rajapaksas. Ranil’s biggest mistake is offering Ministerial posts to Rajapaksas.

    • 6
      0

      Champa,
      “There is a new move to unseat Ranil, presumably led by India “
      In your valuable opinion, is that :
      1.. A bad thing
      2. A good thing
      3. No opinion
      4. Why?

      • 2
        5

        OC
        Your MCQ is not well designed.
        The last should be “none of the above” OR “any of the above” OR “all of the above”.

        • 5
          1

          SJ,
          That would be too complicated for C.

          • 1
            0

            OC,
            Today Champa behaves as if s/he is blind and deaf.

            She has now forgotten all her friends (Wimal Buruwanse and Rajapakse).

            Her fantasies with Putin might be gone out of her mind. I really dont know what a being she is .

      • 3
        1

        OC
        Do you seriously expect a wack Job like Champa to answer your question?
        Champa’s brain is like a pissies pala malla.
        She just gibbers on without making any sense, I think she says things on CT since she has nothing else to keep herself busy.

    • 2
      0

      “Koha” uses the crow’s nest to lay eggs. The fate of RW is similar. His current situation is dangerous. The situation will change once the “Destiny of Koha” chicks grow up differently. At the same time, if we look back, how is Gotabhaya’s “naked” today?

      Was there a powerful president in this country who was elected as Gota in this country? In fact, the result would have been better if the people had made the illiterate man called Dhammika Kokatat Theala manufacturer of Kegalle the president. He would have shared it with ” his Kaliamma”: GOta instead lost everything. Now it is becoming clear, his has been rejected by AMERICAN embassy. He wont be able to go and see his son in america.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWS5h0uuu7U
      I mean constitutionally and by other means GOTA was not given tremendous power? 2/3 Mandate and 20th Amendment.
      Ironically, the whole situation has made Gotabaya “deaf and fearful” today. In a civilized world it would be better for him to kill himself. But the Melcha Rajapkshes are mlechcha by every means.

      • 2
        0

        What is the English word for Koha bird?
        Image result for koha bird in sri lanka english
        The Koha and the European or Common Cuckoo are included in the family of birds known as the Cuculidae. The cuckoo family includes the European or Common Cuckoo, road runners, koels, malkohas, couas, coucals and anis

  • 6
    1

    Any crimes can be committed by Government as long as it says that they are on the American side.
    Chinese too protect SL against the UNHCR RESOLUTIONS. The UNHCR has so far been totally failed the Minnorities in trying to get justice for those who have killed during the 4 decades or more. It is TIME to act .

    • 2
      6

      Countries that know the Human Rights game of the US simply refuse to get sucked in.
      What you said in your first sentence sums up the reality. All else is irrelevant.

    • 6
      1

      Naman

      “Chinese too protect SL against the UNHCR RESOLUTIONS. “

      Sri Lanka doe not manufacture arms.
      Who supplied them all those lethal weapons, planes, boats, …….? Mostly by the two all weather friends.
      It was very decent of them.

    • 3
      0

      Naman, yes it’s time to act. It’s better to try different strategies instead of the same resolutions. UNHCR resolutions, handing over to ICC, the actual hearings and the conclusion (getting justice ) usually takes decades, provided countries like China and Russia doesn’t veto or resist every step towards that goal. This was the case in few who were found guilty after lengthy hearings / procedures lasting for decades. Do not forget it is the U.S , which was in forefront initiating, coming up with resolutions, getting the support and passing it. In the meantime U.S is trying to come up with measures which does not need the support of security council. They will try targeting specifically individuals, families by sanctions, restrictions, freezing assets, producing evidence, filing cases in their homeland which are specific and targets certain individuals and not the country. people specific is much more effective and invites less resistance than going against the country. You need to hit where it really hurts (freeze wealth).

      • 2
        0

        Naman, we heard how miserable Gotha was, to return early than anticipated, after being restricted and told to stay put. People can have all the money but when their wings are cut off, they still feel miserable. Before Rajapaksas had Lanka, which they thought they owned and felt safe , but not after Aragalaya. I’m confused why Rajapaksas are not settling in China or Russia???

  • 6
    1

    Why too much of PTA,Gota haven’t used that much of that law,he had white van squad,
    Lasantha,Thanajudden, other journalists….etc arrest,courts, bail why waste time
    Just asked for pure drinking water What has he done,his interest was financial kapadia Dhamika, not even bothered about the environment, then to be green champion ban the fertiliser over night than run away
    Then this back door softie doing his (GR) dirty ground work, and brought back him, his point may be you people rejected me but my man recognised me.

  • 1
    2

    They have praise if you see leapord and tamil ,which one to kill first
    Sadu sadu sadu bhudusarnai
    Every full moon is lock down, is it industrial country, people elected where they supposed to get the oath
    From
    Asagriya there are too many monks ,far too many not because of Buddha too many perks,most of them wants to.have their own vihara ,it’s like MC Donalds

  • 2
    2

    The UNHCR is pussyfooting with the thugs, murders, and their cohorts who have robbed and plundered this nation and its’ poor inhabitants for well over seven decades. It is a toothless tiger with either no mandate or no real interest to bring about meaningful change in embattled countries like ours.
    For reasons best known to himself, the man at the helm today has single handedly brought this country to its’ knees by being hand in glove with the aforementioned criminal elements for almost half a century.

    • 2
      0

      Mr Pundit,
      Why should we blame the UN Human Rights Council for our misbehavior? ? Each time, our dogs have promised in front of them that we will improve the situation. Sadly, our nation or its ilk never fulfills its promise. IMF has already helped out 16 times. successive govts have not fullfilled as pledged before them. So the failure lies on our miserable nation, not being able to build up consenesus for a common goal.

      We the people know very well that our judiciary will bend to our worst politicians. Needless to discuss it further and further.
      Outsiders don’t know details of our crises. South asian malicious mentality has destroyed everything for our people. SORCERY, witchery, trickery and all is absorbed in their mindset from the begining on.SO facts and figures of anything would not bring them further, but ” sorcery”:

      Each time, we have deceived us by ourselves and repeat… but what has overtaken us? If war crimes had been properly investigated by the International Court of Justice, things would have worked out for Sri Lanka and the world by now. Srilanken could have turned out to be a notehr progressive country during last 12 years (post war period). The United Nations Human Rights Council has already presented to us in 2009. We didn’t use it. It’s our fault. Now those poisonous reptiles are mixed everywhere and the nation has fallen into a precipice.

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