Statements at UNHRC on Sri Lanka Sept. 14
UNHCHR Zeid statement
Six years ago, we were confronted with serious violations and loss of civilian life in the last months of Sri Lanka’s long civil war. This Council has been deeply engaged with the need for accountability, as a necessary step towards reconciliation in that country. On Wednesday I will release the report of the comprehensive investigation that OHCHR was mandated to conduct in March 2014, including my recommendations. Its findings are of the most serious nature. I welcome the vision shown by President Sirisena since his election in January 2015, and the commitments made by the new Government under his leadership. But this Council owes it to Sri Lankans – and to its own credibility – to ensure an accountability process that produces results, decisively moves beyond the failures of the past, and brings the deep institutional changes needed to guarantee non-recurrence.
We eagerly anticipate the release of the report on Sri Lanka. The United States will engage with the government of Sri Lanka with the objective to develop a resolution that will gain the consensus support of this Council and will assist Sri Lanka in achieving meaningful and credible accountability as well as address the important findings of the OHCHR investigation report.
We welcome the progress made by the government of Sri Lanka and encourage it to fulfil its commitments to the High Commissioner, to consider in full the OHCHR report’s recommendations and to establish credible and consultative reconciliation and accountability mechanisms to help bring lasting peace and justice to Sri Lanka.
UN Human Rights Council: General Debate following the Oral Update by the High Commissioner
Statement made under Item 2
Thank you, Mr. President. The High Commissioner’s much-anticipated investigative report on Sri Lanka will play a vital role in informing international consideration of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, minimum benchmarks required to ensure a credible justice and accountability process, and the follow-up required. Three elements are crucial to a credible response from this Council:
First, the resolution will need to set out concrete benchmarks for an effective justice and accountability mechanism, including a majority of international judges in an independent system, an independent international prosecutor, and measures to ensure that the applicable law for the mechanism will include customary international humanitarian law, notably command responsibility.
Second, the resolution will need to engage with the High Commissioner’s recommendations regarding national reforms needed, including repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, ensuring detainees are not subject to torture or ill-treatment, and measures to address enforced disappearances.
Third, it is crucial that the Council remain seized of the matter, and make provision for regular reporting and updates until such time as the concerns that led to the creation of the OHCHR investigation have been addressed and have delivered genuine justice.