Oral Statement by Pasumai Thaayagam on Accountability, Justice and Reconciliation in Sri Lanka
32nd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, June 14, 2016 Geneva
Pasumai Thaayagam congratulates and appreciates the UNHRC for a decade of upholding human rights within its member states. We, on behalf of the victims in Sri Lanka also thank the High Commissioner and his office for the excellent work they continue to do, as highlighted in the updates provided yesterday and look forward to the High Commissioner’s oral report later.
Weappeal to this Council to continue working towards ensuring the implementation of Resolution 30/1 in full, providing relevant assistance. While the Sri Lankan government has taken certain steps, Pasumai Thaayagam expresses deep concern with the pace of progress, and the mixed messaging the government is sending on plans to implement the Resolution.
For example, both President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremasinghe have repeatedly stated that the judicial mechanism will not include foreign actors, a key component to the credibility of the mechanism from the perspective of victims. This week, Sri Lanka’s military commander in Jaffna, Mahes Senanayake, stated that the military planned to stay in the North-East, despite the fact that the Resolution calls for meaningful security reform.
These statements contradicting the Resolution come at a time when Tamil victims and communities continue to have little confidence in the Sri Lankan government’s political will due to the government’s failure to address critical on-going human rights issues including militarization, reports of on-going torture, continued illegal land acquisition, and the detention of political prisoners. These issues must be immediately addressed in order to gain the Tamil community’s trust and support in any accountability and reconciliation initiatives.
While Pasumai Thaayagam acknowledges the creation of a Consultation Task Force, consultations have proven limited and continue to be delayed. Similarly, victims’ and human rights’ groups have voiced serious concerns about the manner in which the Office of Missing Persons is being created. We emphasize the need for the Sri Lankan government to fully implement Resolution 30/1 it co-sponsored, and include international actorsin the consultation and development of accountability mechanisms.
Pasumai Thaayagam would also like to re-iterate that though steps towards a political solution are important and needed for sustainable peace, they are no substitute for justice. Victims and war-affected communities have repeatedly made clear that they require meaningful accountability and justice to move towards a sustainable future for the country as a whole. Justice delayed cannot be justice denied.