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Concern and dismay at Sri Lanka's rejection of OISL

The UK, Canada and European Union urged Sri Lanka to cooperate with the OHCHR Investigation into Sri Lanka, following the oral update by the UN human rights chief on Thursday, whilst other states including Pakistan and the 'Like Minded Group', decried the OISL mandate as not in line with the UN Human Rights Council's core principles.

India called for the "timely" implementation of the LLRC and for the military to be removed from the Northern province, reiterating that it wishes for a political solution on the island that respects the political aspirations of the Tamil people.

Ireland said the investigation team has to be allowed to collect witness testimonies and that no one should be subject to reprisals, while the Philippines stressed the importance of timely accountability for reconciliation. Switzerland called on the Sri Lankan government to allow the Northern Provincial Council to fully function, noting that it was still not able to do so.

Addressing the Council immediately after the oral update, Sri Lanka reiterated its rejection of the investigation, stating, "to those who continue to urge that Sri Lanka to revisit this position, I wish to respectfully reply that government of Sri Lanka does not wish to help legitimise a flawed process and have a detrimental precedent established." See here for more.


European Union

In a joint statement, the EU said it regrets the position of Sri Lanka not to cooperate with the investigation by OHCHR into alleged violations and abuses, urging the government to reconsider its position, and expressing concern at efforts to restrict activities of civil society in Sri Lanka.

"The EU appreciates the report by Secretary General and the High Commissioner.
The EU regrets the position of the Government of Sri Lanka not to cooperate with the investigation by OHCHR into alleged violations and abuses during Sri Lanka’s civil war.

We urge the government to reconsider its position. We are concerned at efforts to restrict activities of civil society in Sri Lanka, we call on the government to respect equal rights to exercise freedom of expression, association and assembly including by ensuring that individuals can engage with UN mechanism and to ensure accountability for harassment and intimidation.

We deplore serious episodes of violence against religious minority groups including Muslims, Christians and Hindus."


The United Kingdom aligned itself with the EU statement, welcoming the update by the high commissioner and expressing its strong support for the OISL. The UK expressed concern at reports of reprisals against those who cooperated with the OISL, and noted that no prosecutions had been brought against those responsible for the anti-Muslim violence in June, despite President Rajapaksa’s promise to bring perpetrators to justice.

"The UK Welcomes the High Commissioner's update on Sri Lanka.

We strongly support the independent international investigation into allegations of violations on both sides of the conflict. We welcome the expert team established by the High Commissioner and are confident that the team can deliver the robust investigation needed.

We welcome progress made in Sri Lanka, including reconstruction of conflict affected areas, and the Witness Protection Bill. We call on the government to fully implement the LLRC recommendations and note the expansion of the Commission on Missing Persons to include some accountability issues. Any genuine domestic accountability process should welcome information arising from the international investigation as a further contribution to establishing the truth: we agree with the High Commissioner that there is no contradiction between both processes operating concurrently.

However, we are concerned by the government's lack of cooperation with the investigation and its statement that those who engage with it could be subject to prosecution. We call on the government to cooperate with the investigation and ensure that those who wish to engage with it are able to do so freely, without fear of intimidation; harassment, or prosecution. We remain deeply concerned at the human rights situation, including the shrinking democratic space, military present in the North and constraints on freedom of expression. We are disappointed that there have been no prosecutions for sectarian violence in June despite President Rajapaksa's commitment that those responsible would be brought to justice.

To achieve lasting peace and reconciliation, the grievances of all those affected by the conflict must be addressed and impunity for human rights violations come to an end."



The Canadian mission thanked the OHCHR and OISL for its important work and said it shares many of the concerns expressed in the High Commissioner’s report.

Canada expressed great concern at the continuing reports of stifling of civil society efforts and said it deeply regrets Sri Lanka’s continuing unwillingness to cooperate with the investigation, as well as being "dismayed" by the refusal to allow the investigation team access.

Canada said it was encouraged however, that the OISL will continue despite that and that those wishing to submit evidence should be able to do so without fear of reprisals.

See here for full statement.


Montenegro, one of the sponsors of the resolution establishing the investigation, said it fully supports efforts for justice and reconciliation. Echoing the EU statement, Montenegro said it was imperative that the international community acts towards those goals. While taking note of the “important steps” made by Sri Lanka, it expressed concern at the vote by the parliament against the OISL.

See here for full statement. 


India in its statement to the council noted with concern that the High Commissioner did not say how the OHCHR will take the OISL forward, given that Sri Lanka is not cooperating.

India called on Sri Lanka for timely implementation of the LLRC and to continue to use the recommendations of the commission as a basis for reconciliation, including the return of private land and the withdrawal of the military from the Northern Province.

It urged a political solution that respects the aspirations of the Tamil community, built upon the 13th Amendment, adding that early reconciliation and a political solution will prepare the ground for further investigation at the satisfaction of both parties.



Pakistan expressed its view that for a fruitful outcome of country specific resolutions at the Human Rights Council, it will need the full support of the concerned country. The resolution on Sri Lanka was an exception that must not be quoted as a precedent for the future work of council.

Pakistan commended Sri Lanka’s efforts, adding that the international community needs to appreciate Sri Lanka rather than punish it for rooting out terrorism. It further called upon countries sheltering and facilitating “former elements of the LTTE”, to ensure that this is not allowed to impede Sri Lanka.

See here for full statement.



China said in its address that the primary responsibility of human rights lies with the government in question and it was the duty of the international community to only provide assistance when a government requests this. Since end of conflict SL has devoted itself to national reconciliation and development, China said. Welcoming these developments, China expressed regret that these were not fully represented in the High Commissioner’s oral report. China pointed out that Sri Lanka received the Special Rapporteur on migrant workers and called on the international community to support national reconciliation efforts.


Egypt and Like Minded Group

Egypt, reading out a statement on behalf of the Like Minded Group, which includes Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, North Korea, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Venezuela and Zimbabwe, said the resolution mandating the OISL contravened the fundamental principles of the UN Human Rights Council.

See full statement reproduced below:

"It is the second time this year that we are engaging on the situation of Sri Lanka in this Council.

Sri Lanka has regularly briefed this Council on the reconciliation process and developments in that country since the end of the conflict, despite its non-recognition of the resolution 25/1. We also note that Sri Lanka has continued to engage with regular mechanisms of this Council, including special procedures, treaty bodies and the UPR.

 We recognize these efforts and encourage Sri Lanka to continue its endeavours towards achieving reconciliation in an inclusive and comprehensive manner. We also note Sri Lanka's efforts to share experiences with its regional and international partners towards this end.

  We therefore believe that the intrusive mandate given to the OHCHR by Res. 25/1 to carry out investigations on Sri Lanka is unwarranted, especially in the context where the country is implementing its own domestic processes.

 OHCHR's efforts should contribute to a state's own efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights, as stipulated in the UNGA Res. 48/141, UNGA Res. 60/251, UNGA Res. 65/281 and in the IB package. These core documents do not confer any oversight authority to the OHCHR over sovereign countries. Any external assistance to countries should expressly be in consultation with and with the consent of that country.

 However, in contravention of these fundamental principles, Resolution 25/1 calls for 'comprehensive investigation' by the OHCHR, thereby vesting an investigative authority on the office.

 As we have observed, successive resolutions on Sri Lanka have not enjoyed the consensus of the Council members. This was amply evident by the divided vote of 14 against, 10 abstentions on OP 10 of resolution 25/1, which sought to establish the OHCHR investigation.

 The international community should be mindful not to jeopardize the delicate process of reconciliation that is already underway in Sri Lanka. Constructive dialogue in a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation in keeping with the accepted norms of international engagement is key in ensuring and promoting universal respect for the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.

 Naming and shaming countries through country specific action based on politically motivated agenda, neither bodes well for human rights nor the future and the credibility of this Council. We should also be mindful not to set dangerous precedents, which may adversely affect all our countries."

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