by UK Mission to the UN, Geneva, March 21, 2018
This joint statement was delivered at the 37th Session of the Human Rights Council on behalf of Macedonia, Montenegro, the United States & the United Kingdom the during the UN High Commissioner’s report on Sri Lanka, held on 21 March 2018.
This statement is on behalf of Macedonia, Montenegro, the United States and the United Kingdom as main sponsors of HRC resolutions 30 / 1 and 34/1.
We thank the High Commissioner for his update. Through co-sponsorship of resolution 34/1 last year, Sri Lanka reaffirmed its commitment to implementing all the reforms in resolution 30/1. The Council extended OHCHR reporting on the implementation of its recommendations for an additional 24 months to allow the Government to make the progress needed on its commitments and to build confidence between all communities in Sri Lanka.
High Commissioner, we welcome the overall improvement in human rights and democratic reforms which your update notes. Sri Lanka is safer and freer than it was in 2015. The Government’s constructive engagement with UN special procedures and support for the Peacebuilding Priority Plan is welcome. The Consultation Task Force issued an important report to reflect the views of Sri Lankans, and recent legislation on enforced disappearance is also positive.
While welcoming these steps, we are disappointed that the pace of progress has been slow. Much still remains to be done to implement Sri Lanka’s commitments. We remain concerned about reports of abuse of authority by some security officials. And multiple incidents of intercommunal violence, attacks, and hate speech against minorities are alarming and demonstrate the need for reconciliation efforts.
As Sri Lanka acknowledged with its co-sponsorship of resolution 30/1, devolution of political authority through constitutional reform is integral to lasting reconciliation and non-recurrence of violations and abuses. Families of disappeared persons from all communities have waited too long for answers. We urge that the Office of Missing Persons be fully operational without delay, and for meaningful steps to establish the other transitional justice mechanisms outlined in resolution 30/1. Effective security sector reforms, repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and release of more military-occupied land to civilian ownership, will all help build trust and confidence.
With determined leadership and a clear timeline for action, this Government can deliver the reform and justice agenda, and take the actions needed to support long-term reconciliation, with the support of all Sri Lankans.
Sri Lanka still has an historic opportunity to avoid returning to divisions of the past. We firmly believe that implementing the reforms in resolutions 34/1 and 30/1 will help give all Sri Lankans assurance of the safe, peaceful, and prosperous future they deserve.