United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein declared that the next few months will be very important for Sri Lanka, as the government embarks on national consultations for the design of a comprehensive transitional justice process to implement the Human Rights Council’s resolution.
Delivering a statement at the 31st Human Rights Council’s session in Geneva on Thursday, Al Hussein underscored upon the importance for the comprehensive transitional justice process be conducted in an environment free of surveillance and intimidation. “So the voices of victims can be heard. Reports of violations must be promptly investigated and addressed,” he said.
Speaking further on Sri Lanka’s journey toward accountability, reconciliation and durable peace, Al Hussein noted that important steps have also been taken to reform the Constitution, revive independent institutions, and restore an environment for free expression and debate in the country.
“Powerful symbolic gestures of reconciliation have been made, for instance singing the national anthem in Tamil – although other steps, such as the release of land held by the military, reviewing the cases of security detainees, and resolving the issue of disappearances, need to move forward faster,” he told the session.
In October last year, a resolution was adopted on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka, where the Human Rights Council encouraged the Government of Sri Lanka to investigate all alleged attacks by individuals and groups on journalists, human rights defenders, members of religious minority groups and other members of civil society; further encourages the Government of Sri Lanka to develop a comprehensive plan and mechanism for preserving all existing records and documentation relating to human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law; requests the Office of the High Commissioner to continue to assess progress on the implementation of its recommendations and other relevant processes related to reconciliation, accountability and human rights.