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UN member states push for time bound implementation of Sri Lanka's UNHRC commitments, call for ratification of Rome Statute

Sri Lanka faced pressure to deliver a time bound benchmarked action plan on full implementation of its commitments in United Nations Human Rights Council resolution 30/1 on reconciliation, accountability and human rights during its Universal Periodic Review.

Making interventions during the interactive dialogue of Sri Lanka’s Universal Periodic Review, UN member states including Macedonia, Austria, USA, UK, Germany, Canada, Finland and Denmark called  on the Sri Lanka to “produce an unambiguous timeline” detailing “adequate resources” for the full implementation of the resolution commitments.

Member states including Argentina, USA, Canada, Austria, Estonia and Slovenia highlighted the importance of ensuring accountability and prosecutions during their interventions. Stressing the importance of accountability within Sri Lanka’s security forces, the United States called on Sri Lanka to ensure “accountability for violations of human rights by security forces” and “ensure prosecutions for religious violence”.

Canada and Slovenia stressed the need for a “victim centred” accountability mechanism that included “involvement of foreign and Commonwealth prosecutors, investigators and judges”

Several member states, including Slovenia, Estonia, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, East Timor, Latvia and Austria called on Sri Lanka to ratify the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court as a measure to prevent non-recurrence of atrocities.

Expressing concern at ongoing reports of torture several member states called on Sri Lanka to sign up to the Optional Protocol of the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT). The concerns included calls on Sri Lanka to allow for an impartial independent investigation into ongoing torture.

A large collection of member states called on Sri Lanka to criminalise enforced disappearances in its penal code and highlighted concerns on its failure to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act which allows for arbitrary detention.

Noting growing frustrations on the ground in the North-East, Austria called for an “end of military involvement in civilian affairs”. Canada reiterated calls on Sri Lanka to end military involvement in civilian affairs and for “the return of lands to rightful civilian owners.” Ghana added to calls to end land appropriation in the North-East and called on Sri Lanka to consider large scale transfer of land for civilian use in northern and eastern provinces.

Commenting on Sri Lanka’s constitution making process, member states called on the constitution to ensure the rights of all communities with adequate power distribution. India called for Sri Lanka to pursue devolution of powers using the template of the 13th amendment of Sri Lanka’s constitution. 

See live tweets from the session here and here.

The full recording of the session can be seen here.