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UN demands ‘significant progress’ from Sri Lanka on rights

ECONOMYNEXT – The UN Human Rights Council Thursday unanimously adopted another resolution on Sri Lanka demanding "further significant progress" in implementing its pledges to investigate war crimes and ensure ethnic reconciliation.

Adopting a fresh resolution a day after rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein condemned Sri Lanka for persistent failure to probe war-era atrocities, Colombo was given two more years to deliver on promises made in October 2015.

The new resolution requests the government of Sri Lanka to fully implement the measures identified in the Human Rights Council resolution 30/1 of October 2015 that are still outstanding.

However, there was no repetition of demanding "foreign judges" in a hybrid court to try war criminals as demanded in the original resolution.

In Zeid’s written 18-page report that was officially unveiled this week, but made available to the press earlier, the language had been toned down to call for "international" judges instead of "foreign" judges.

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera told reporters in Colombo last week that Sri Lanka should consider having "international judges" given that there were Sri Lankans who had served as distinguished international judges and prosecutors.

Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha de Silva, who is now in Geneva attending the UNHRC sessions, said Colombo "deeply appreciate the understanding shown by all".

"We thank the international community for their continued support in this journey. We thank them for placing their faith in our government and our people, and for walking with us at our side, as we strive to establish ‘Sri Lankan government-led processes’ with international assistance, engagement and support for the benefit of all our citizens, without discrimination.’

Zeid had accused Sri Lanka of failing to address accountability issues and  impunity for crimes committed during the 37-year civil war, which ended in 2009.

"The consistent failure to effectively investigate, prosecute and punish serious crimes appears to reflect a broader reluctance or fear to take action against members of the security forces," Zeid said.





However, Thursday’s resolution gives two years for Sri Lanka to deliver, despite President Maithripala Sirisena insisting that he will not allow his troops to be tried for war crimes. (COLOMBO, March 23, 2017)

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