OHCHR Report: Promoting Reconciliation, Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka

by Office of the High Commission for Human Rights, Geneva, January 25, 2018

OHCHR Report on Sri Lanka 2018

Pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 34/1, the present document is an
update on progress made in the implementation of resolution 30/1 on promoting
reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka during the period from March
2017 to January 2018, in particular with regard to the Government’s commitment to put in
place transitional justice measures. In the present update, the Office of the United Nations
High Commissioner for Human Rights also looks at the general human rights situation in
the country, including with respect to accountability.

V. Conclusions and recommendations
48. The High Commissioner reiterates his appreciation for the constructive
engagement of the Government of Sri Lanka with OHCHR and United Nations
human rights mechanisms since January 2015. However, as he noted in March 2017,
this constructive collaboration must be accompanied by the implementation of key
commitments. The fulfilment of the transitional justice commitments made under
Human Rights Council resolution 30/1 has been virtually stalled for more than a year.
Progress with some confidence-building measures has often been insufficient and
inconclusive, and the structures set up to coordinate implementation have not
consolidated enough or did not receive sufficient political support to move things
49. In statements and reports issued since 2015, the High Commissioner, while
expressing concern over the lack of progress on accountability and reforms, was
encouraged by the positive improvement of the general human rights situation.
However, 2017 was marked by intermittent inter-ethnic tensions and attacks on
minorities which are unlikely to dissipate completely.
50. While the Government has managed to steer many of these worrying events in
a positive direction, this type of violence in a country that has experienced cycles of
extreme violence roughly every 10 years is deeply troubling, particularly when
accompanied by hate speech, misinformation and agitation through social media and
political manipulation.
51. The continuing allegations of torture and surveillance and the lack of sufficient
progress in implementing critical confidence-building measures, such as the release of
land, the repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the solution to the pending
cases under the Act, have antagonized key constituencies that could be instrumental to
the Government’s reform efforts.
52. The High Commissioner urges the Human Rights Council to continue to play a
critical role in encouraging progress in accountability and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
It also calls on Member States to explore other avenues, including the application of
universal jurisdiction, that could foster accountability.

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