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Australian Tamils call for Sri Lanka to be referred to ICC

Tamils in Australia expressed disappointment over the UN Human Rights Council's decision to grant Sri Lanka a two year extension to implement resolution 30/1, and called for alternate avenues to be explored, including referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC). 

"Given Sri Lanka’s lack of will to bring perpetrators to justice, the ATC joins Tamil victim and survivor communities within the island, the Diaspora and international human rights organisations in calling for alternate UN processes to be considered such as referral to the ICC or the establishment of an international criminal tribunal," the Australian Tamil Congress said this week. 

“We are frustrated that member states have not taken a more robust approach to ensure delivery of Sri Lanka’s commitments made in previous resolutions,” ATC's NSW director,  Avi Selva said. 

“This resolution yet again aids Sri Lanka’s tactic of delaying and hence denying justice to victims and survivors,” ATC spokesperson, Dr Sam Pari added. 

In its statement the ATC further said: 

"The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) expresses its disappointment on the shortcomings of resolution 40/1 ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’ adopted at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), as it fails to set a clear pathway for accelerated progress on achieving transitional justice and accountability for mass atrocity crimes committed in Sri Lanka.

There have been seven such resolutions with Sri Lanka itself co-sponsoring the last three. However, ten years since the war which saw the peak of mass atrocity crimes committed against the Tamil population, very little justice has reached victims and survivors. Action so far has mostly been bureaucratic shuffling for international approval.

Having not delivered on commitments agreed to in resolution 30/1 in 2015, Sri Lanka was given a 2-year extension (resolution 34/1) in 2017. Despite no meaningful progress again, co-sponsored by 32 countries, including Australia, another 2-year extension has been given yet again without strict time frames or consequences for failure in delivering on commitments.

The ATC appreciates the Council’s High Commissioner’s report which includes recommendations such as calling on member states to use universal jurisdiction to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes in Sri Lanka. However, the resolution has failed to meaningfully incorporate any of these."

ATC's call for Sri Lanka to be referred to the ICC echoed the sentiments of Tamils across the diaspora and North-East who have been protesting over recent weeks on the issue, reiterating that nothing short of a truly international investigation would provide justice for Tamils. 

This week the UNHRC passed a roll-over resolution granting Sri Lanka a further two years to implement resolution 30/1, which calls for transitional justice and accountability through a hybrid mechanism. 


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