Amnesty: Assessment of Outcomes of 46th Session of UNHRC

And recommendations for follow-up

See the source imageby Amnesty International, London, April 22, 2021

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We welcome the adoption of landmark resolution 46/1 on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human
rights in Sri Lanka, which is an important step forward and offers renewed hope of long-awaited justice for
victims of the country’s 30-year civil conflict. The resolution not only ramps up international monitoring and
scrutiny of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, but also mandates the OHCHR to collect, consolidate and
preserve evidence for future prosecutions and make recommendations to the international community on steps
they can make to deliver on justice and accountability.

It is deeply regrettable that such an approach was necessary, but the dramatic backsliding on human rights in
the country and the limited progress that had been made on accountability over the past years, coupled with
the Government’s decision to disengage with the consensus framework established by Council resolution 30/1,
the increased targeting of civil society and perceived critics, and blanket denials of the OHCHR’s findings,
meant it was the only credible option. We applaud the leadership of the core group, and all states that
supported the resolution despite heavy pressure not to.

The resolution followed clear calls not only from the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Sri Lankan,
regional and international civil society groups, but also a significant number of eminent persons, including past
High Commissioners and Special Rapporteurs, the former Group of Experts on Sri Lanka, Adama Dieng and
others, as well as groups from Latin America including the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo.

Going forward, we hope that all states will encourage Sri Lanka to engage with the OHCHR and implement the
recommendations of the HRC46 report. If the Sri Lankan government fails to do so, more robust action by the
Council should be considered. States should also be on watch given the heightened risk of reprisals against
human rights defenders and civil society organizations in the country and take steps to advance accountability
in other ways as recommended by the High Commissioner. The real impact of further OHCHR monitoring and
reporting will rely on UN member states using the resolution as a basis for concrete action, including
investigations and prosecutions under universal jurisdiction and a possible referral to the International Criminal

➢ The Human Rights Council and UN member states should be mindful of the risk of increased reprisals,
especially as victims, human rights defenders and civil society organizations prepare to engage with
and provide information to the new OHCHR mandate. UN member states should support victims of
human rights violations in Sri Lanka by publicly and privately raising concerns with the government,
and by having regular meetings with civil society and human rights defenders. They must publicly
condemn attacks, threats, and intimidation against human rights defenders and civil society
organizations as appropriate.
➢ UN member states should pursue investigations and prosecutions of crimes under international law
committed during the armed conflict by all parties in Sri Lanka before their own national courts using
principles of universal jurisdiction, in fair trials and without recourse to the death penalty.
➢ The government of Sri Lanka should cooperate with the OHCHR and work to implement the
recommendations of the report to HRC46.

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