A Resolution will be tabled, by the Core Group, on Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) 51st Session, which will begin Monday (12). The March 2021 UNHRC Resolution 46/1 expires this month, hence Sri Lanka is on the UNHRC agenda for the 51st session.
Already, a delegation comprising Foreign Minister Ali Sabry and Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and many other officials are readying to vehemently contest the 46/1 resolution, the remarks on the report of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR). Foreign Minister Ali Sabry told the local media, before his departure to Geneva last week, that despite a resolution against the country receiving votes in favour or against at the UNHRC, Sri Lanka will stand firm. Foreign Secretary Aruni Wijewardane said that the Foreign Ministry has worked closely with the UNHRC on many occasions and would continue to work with them.
Minister Sabry stated that they will cooperate with the UN organisation but are not interested in confrontations and will not work in a way that will jeopardise the country’s sovereignty and independence. He referred to the International probe to look into alleged war crimes the UNHRC has recommended. The session on Sri Lanka would be on 12 September and the voting is expected at the end of the UNHRC session.
Also, the OHCHR will hold a public meeting on 12 September at 10 a.m. Geneva time during which a tribute to victims of enforced disappearances will be held featuring testimony of a victim of enforced disappearance from Sri Lanka.
The Government of Sri Lanka has clearly rejected resolutions on Sri Lanka from 2011 and co-sponsored a resolution in 2015 by then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister, the late Mangala Samarwaweera.
The OHCHR also called on the international community to support Sri Lanka in the investigation on economic crimes that impact human rights and the tracing and recovery of stolen assets besides focusing on the Sri Lanka accountability project, the evidence-collection and accountability recommendation mechanism set up inside the OHCHR by 46/1.
High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, in her report mandated in 46/1, called on the authorities to independently, thoroughly and transparently investigate all the attacks that have occurred, including the destruction of properties, and ensure that those found responsible are held to account.
As of July 2022, the OHCHR said that the Government of Sri Lanka has six pending requests for visits by United Nations special procedures. Three Special procedures have issued joint statements expressing concern regarding the impact of the economic crisis on human rights, calling for an immediate moratorium on the use of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and urging the Government to guarantee the fundamental rights of peaceful assembly and of expression.
Resolution 46/1 announced an evidence-gathering mechanism on Sri Lanka and all the claims of human rights violations and alleged war crimes but the Government of Sri Lanka rejected this mechanism overwhelmingly. In this regard, OHCHR has already mapped existing United Nations material and integrated all of the material from the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL), which was consistent with the applicable conditions and consent. The Office has also commenced identifying material held by other actors and engaging with information providers. To date, two organisations’ databases have been migrated into the repository, and negotiations with other information providers are ongoing.
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan