UNHRC resolution against SL does not shut the door on domestic inquiry - US
….. but justice and accountability cannot waitMarch 29, 2014, 10:42 pm
By Zacki Jabbar
The US says that the UNHRC resolution calling for an international war crimes probe into the last stages of the war in Sri Lanka which was adopted in Geneva last week did not shut the door on the Rajapaksa government conducting a credible and independent domestic inquiry.
Michele J Sison, the US Ambassdor in Colombo, told a round table with a group of journalists at the American Center on Friday, that they had to move a third successive UNHRC resolution against the Sri Lankan government since it had failed ,despite repeated requests by the global community, to probe the allegations of serious human rights violations against its security forces as well as the LTTE during the last stages of the war which ended in May 2009 or in the alternative to extend it to the period covered by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission(LLRC).
However that did not mean the resolution which was adopted by a margin of 23 to 12 with 12 abstensions had shut the door on a Sri Lankan inquiry being conducted according to universally established legal procedures which all UN members were signatories to, she noted.
"In this regard the Rule of Law needs to be strengthened, impunity ended and basic legislation such as the Victim and Witness Protection and Right to Information bills, both called for by the LLRC, be enacted. We hope the offer of technical assistance made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights would also be made use of."
Asked,if the third US sponsored UNHRC resolution was not too harsh considering the number that voted against and also abstained, Sison replied that the international community had sent out a clear message that "the time to pursue lasting peace and prosperity in Sri Lanka is now and justice and accountability cannot wait."
The Ambassador said that contrary to criticism leveled against her country, the UNHRC resolution was for the benefit of Sri Lanka. "It was undertaken in support of the Sri Lankan people in recognition of the resilience they have shown after years of war and their yearning for democracy and prosperity. The text was discussed at length with UNHRC member and observer states as well as with other stakeholders."
For generations Sri Lankans have known too much violence. They deserve better and should be able to live in dignity in a prosperous, united and peaceful country. That was the aim of this latest resolution and will be the goal of U.S. policy moving forward, she emphasized. The US was ready to assist and looked forward to continuing its engagement with the Rajapaksa government and also strengthening the bonds of friendship with its people.
Pointing out that the US was the first country to proscribe the LTTE which still remains a terrorist designated organization in the US, Sison observed that they were encouraged to see the end of a "long and terrible conflict. We support the Sri Lankan people and their desire to see a unified, peaceful country. Respect for human rights, transparency, and democratic governance are all essential to flourish in this global economy. Without justice, reconciliation, and accountability, there can be no sustained peace and prosperity."
She said that the UNHRC had affirmed the belief of the global community that continued effort was needed to help the Sri Lankan government take meaningful action on reconciliation, justice and accountability.
"For years the United States had strongly supported a Sri Lankan led process to resolve outstanding concerns from the conflict. We have also been vocal in support of the report by the LLRC and its recommendations for addressing longstanding issues of reconciliation, justice and accountability. However not enough had been done to move forward on these recommendations. Furthermore, the human rights situation in Sri Lanka is deteriorating."
There had to be an end to the continued attacks on human rights defenders, religious minorities, journalists, civil society members, lawyers and on minority religious places of worship, the Ambassador noted.
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Last Updated May 29 2016 | 10:34 am