(22 March 2012, Geneva/Bangkok) – The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), a regional human rights group with 49 member organisations in 17 countries across Asia, has welcomed the resolution on “promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka”, which was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council (Council) today with 24 States voting in favor, 8 abstentions and 15 voting against.
The resolution introduced by 40 co-sponsoring countries calls upon the government of Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC); to initiate independent and credible actions to address alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law; and to present a comprehensive action plan towards both these ends. It also encourages the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and relevant Special Procedures to provide advice and technical assistance, and requests the OHCHR to present a report on its work in this regard to the 22nd regular session of the Council in March 2013.
“As human rights defenders, we look to the Council to complement the domestic accountability process, especially in view of the Council’s endorsement of the joint communiqué between the UN Secretary General and the President of Sri Lanka in 2009. We hope that the government of Sri Lanka will view the adoption of this resolution in a constructive light and work towards the effective implementation of the LLRC recommendations as an invaluable first step towards justice and accountability for both past and ongoing violations of human rights in Sri Lanka”, said Ms. Sunila Abeysekera of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Defenders Network. “We also hope that such a process will lead to an improvement in relations between the government and civil society actors, so that we may work together for genuine reconciliation and peace in Sri Lanka.”
“The support of the international community through this resolution by the Council must enhance the space for those embattled Sri Lankan human rights defenders and victims to raise their legitimate concerns on justice and accountability without fear of violence and coercion”, said Mr. Yap Swee Seng, Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA. “We strongly urge the Sri Lankan government and State-controlled media to immediately end their systematic intimidation and threats against Sri Lankan civil society organizations that support this action by the Council.”
“We are extremely disappointed to find several Asian member States of the Council voted against the resolution, including Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, the Maldives, the Philippines and Thailand. However, India’s remarkable vote in favor of the resolution and the abstentions by Jordan, Kyrgyzstan and Malaysia indicate that the accountability measures undertaken by the government since the end of the war are far insufficient”, said Mr. Subodh Raj Pyakurel, Chairperson of FORUM-ASIA. ”We emphasize that all member States of the Council must exert their efforts in bolstering an environment where the government of Sri Lanka works with the OHCHR and Special Procedures in a cooperative spirit”, he added. (ENDS)
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 In favor: Austria, Belgium, Benin, Cameroon, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Italy, Libya, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, United States of America, Uruguay; Abstention: Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Senegal; Against: Bangladesh, China, Congo, Cuba, Ecuador, Indonesia, Kuwait, Maldives, Mauritania, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Uganda