Six Major Tamil Diaspora Organisations Call for Accelerated Implementation

Six Major Tamil Diaspora Organisations Call for Accelerated Implementation of the UNHRC Resolution on Sri Lanka

GENEVAMarch 22, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC), the British Tamils Forum (BTF), the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC), the Irish Tamils Forum (ITF), the New Zealand Tamil Society (NZTS), and the US Tamil Political Action Council (USTPAC) acknowledge the passing of the resolution ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka‘ (40/1) at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), and thank the Council members who worked towards it.  However, we would like to express our strong disappointment that, despite Sri Lanka’s repeated failures, the resolution failed to set a clear pathway for accelerated progress on full implementation of Resolution 30/1, including transitional justice and accountability for mass atrocity crimes committed in Sri Lanka.

The resolution was co-sponsored by 32 countries and 20 countries spoke at the Interactive Dialogue, which is a testament to the existing focus members of the international community have on human rights and accountability in Sri Lanka.  We appreciate the co-sponsoring countries for their support for progress on Sri Lanka’s transitional justice commitments.  We thank the Core Group for their consistent leadership in ensuring that human rights in Sri Lanka continue to be monitored by the Human Rights Council and the High Commissioner.

We also would like to thank the NGOs and human rights defenders, especially the families of the disappeared and those fighting for return of their land, who have worked so diligently to keep awareness high of past and ongoing abuses in Sri Lanka.  We in the Diaspora share the strong sentiments within the victimized Tamil community in the island that the additional two years without strict time frames and consequences for failure would inadvertently aid Sri Lanka’s tactic of delaying and hence denying justice.

Not a single case involving wartime atrocities has been resolved in a court of law. Not a single Tamil victim of enforced disappearance has been accounted for or the circumstances of their disappearance revealed, and there is no end to the mental anguish of their surviving families.

It is this dismal performance by the Sri Lankan government and the increasing frustration among the community of victims that UNHRC will not be able to course-correct Sri Lanka towards an acceptable pace of progress that contribute to the calls by many among the Tamil community for the UNHRC to adopt alternate UN processes involving multiple UN bodies to establish criminal accountability.  Continued monitoring of Sri Lanka’s progress on its commitments made in Res. 30/1 and re-affirmed in Res. 34/1 is warranted, as are bilateral and multilateral consequences for absence of any meaningful progress on transitional justice and reconciliation.

Sri Lanka’s abject failure and delay in implementing its key commitments, the continuing sufferings of the victims and their families, and the need for accelerated progress on constitutional reform for devolution of power, security sector reform and other important commitments have not merited a mention in Resolution 40/1, thus falling seriously short of required action.  While the need for a time-bound implementation strategy is acknowledged in the resolution, the lack of specificities about how it will become operational needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

In contrast, we welcome the report and recommendations by the Council’s High Commissioner, including that member states,  investigate and prosecute, wherever possible, in particular in accordance with universal jurisdiction principles, those allegedly responsible for such violations as torture, enforced disappearance, war crimes or crimes against humanity; and explore other options to advance accountability in the absence of credible domestic processes.”

We urge member states to prevent perpetrators of these international crimes in Sri Lanka from evading justice, and to adopt a parallel process on accountability, such as an international criminal tribunal, to supplement efforts by the UNHRC to deal with mass atrocity crimes in Sri Lanka during and after the war that ended ten years ago.

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