Mar 01, 2019

Geneva prepares to grant more time to Sri Lanka! Featured

Disregarding the continued appeals by the war victims who have been demanding that Sri Lanka not be given more time to escape from honouring the promise they made four years ago to ensure justice to the war affected and protect their rights, Geneva is preparing to grant more time to Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is yet to completely implement commitments on truth, justice, accountability and reconciliation made at the UN four years ago.

War affected Tamils with no faith in the government have been waiting for nearly a decade for global powers to help deliver.
In 2017, Sri Lanka was granted its first extension despite opposition by victims.

However, instead of implementing commitments on truth, justice, accountability and reconciliation made at the UN four years ago, Sri Lanka is planning on seeking more time until 2021 to implement these pledges and proposals in this regard have already been handed over to the UNHRC member countries.
A draft resolution circulated by Britain, Germany, Canada, Montenegro and Macedonia in Geneva, where the Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) is having its 40th session, calls to extend the time given to Sri Lanka, again.

The five countries are known as the 'core group'.

They have appreciated the human rights record of the government during its term.

The draft recommends the UNHRC to request, “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 in Sri Lanka, and to present a written update to the Human Rights Council at its forty-third session, and a comprehensive report, followed by a discussion on the implementation of Council resolution 30/1, at its forty-sixth session.”

Waiting for justice for the past ten years:

At the commencement of the 40th Geneva sessions, the mothers of the missing together with several other Northern and Eastern organisations appealed to the UN human rights chief against granting more time to Sri Lanka.

“Giving any more time to Sri Lanka is a non-starter and will further embolden the Security Forces to continue their abuses against us and cover-up and destroy vital war crimes evidences,” said the appeal addressed to High Commissioner Michele Bachelet.

International justice tribunal

They had urged in their appeal to present Sri Lanka before an international Criminal Court and appoint a special UN representative to the country who would report to the UN every six months.

However, the core group believes that Sri Lanka has made progress in terms of protecting human rights.

The progress made with regard to land release and establishment of the Office on Missing Persons and the appointment of its Commissioners and the assumption of its work to fully implement its mandate, was welcomed by the resolution.

Specifying definite time frames:

War affected Tamils seeking justice for nearly a decade have urged the High Commissioner as well as the diplomatic community to commit Sri Lanka to a time frame if the government is granted an extension.

The core group seems to have taken note of the request.

"Noting other steps taken by the Government of Sri Lanka to implement Human Rights Council resolution 30/1, including progress towards establishing an Office on Reparations and the submission to cabinet of a concept paper on a Bill to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the proposed repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1978 and the preparation of a draft Counter Terrorism Act, while reiterating in this context the need for further significant progress and encouraging in this regard the adoption of a time-bound implementation strategy," says the draft resolution.
However, the "concept paper on a Bill to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission," has been put on hold by the cabinet of ministers following reservations expressed by President Maithripala Sirisena.

The draft proposal had commended the actions of the democratic institutions in the country in peacefully resolving the political crisis when the President had illegally appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister.

The final draft is scheduled to be tabled for vote on March 22.

High Commissioner Michele Bachelet is expected to present her report on Sri Lanka’s human rights to the UN council next week, while the debate is expected to take place on March 20.

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