Sri Lanka Core Group Statement

by UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, September 11, 2018

This UK statement was delivered at the 39th session of the Human Rights Council during the Sri Lanka Core Group Statement

Palais

The Human Rights Council takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

This statement is delivered on behalf of Germany, Macedonia, Montenegro and the UK as members of the Sri Lanka core group.

We welcome further recent steps Sri Lanka has taken to implement commitments made to the Council in 2015 and 2017. We welcome the Government’s continued engagement with the UN system and actions to implement its National Reconciliation Action Plan and Peacebuilding Priority Plan. We applaud the Office on Missing Persons’ commencement of work and encourage everyone able to advance or contribute to its work to do so. We hope the Government will establish an Office for Reparations quickly. We also welcome the return of further private land in the north, and commitments to return more military-occupied land to civilian ownership.

Nonetheless, the pace of progress on important areas remains much slower than many hoped for. As time passes, lack of progress in delivering key steps risks undermining reconciliation efforts.

In co-sponsoring resolution 30/1, Sri Lanka recognised that national accountability mechanisms are essential to dealing with the past, and to restoring confidence among its communities. These have yet to be established. The Prevention of Terrorism Act has not been replaced with a law that accords with international standards. And, though processes to consider reform to important provisions of the Constitution, including devolution of political authority, has been ongoing since 2016, a way forward has not been found. We are concerned by recent reports of harassment of and attacks on human rights defenders.

Our view remains that, with determined leadership and a clear time-bound action plan, this Government can make more progress towards delivering its Council commitments, and that doing so will better position Sri Lanka and its people to enjoy a more enduring reconciliation and prosperity. We urge Sri Lanka to prioritise and drive forward implementation of resolutions 30/1 and 34/1, before the Council next considers Sri Lanka in March.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/human-rights-council-39-sri-lanka-core-group-statement

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From Opening Statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, UN Human Rights Council, Geneva, September 10, 2018

In Sri Lanka, although the authorities have moved too slowly towards meaningful
implementation of the transitional justice agenda, the Office of Missing Persons has now
begun consultations and institutional capacity-building to fulfil its mandate. We look to that
Office to work quickly, to begin to provide answers to the families of the disappeared.
Legislation establishing an Office for Reparations is also underway. More progress in
advancing accountability and truth-seeking could have great weight in the long-term stability
and prosperity of the nation. Recurrent incidents of racist and inter-communal violence are
disturbing, as are announced plans to resume use of the death penalty.

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