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Core Group to present new resolution 'promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka' states UK

The UK revealed today that it intends to present a new resolution "promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka" at the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) later this month.

“The Core Group on Sri Lanka comprising Canada, Germany, Montenegro, North Macedonia and the United Kingdom will present a further resolution on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka. The resolution will be informed by the recent report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.” stated Julian Braithwaite, Ambassador and Permanent Representative for UK Mission Geneva.  

Further adding,

“All of the Core Groups will hold informal negotiations and we hope that all Council members will be able to support the proposed resolutions.”

In the UN Human Rights report released in January 2021, the UN High Commissioner called on member states to consider a referral to the International Criminal Court, establish investigations and prosecutions under universal jurisdiction, and to impose sanctions on Sri Lankan officials implicated in international crimes.

The UK’s statement comes as tens of thousands of Tamils and Muslims conducted a protest march in the Tamil Homeland, despite court bans, brutal mob assaults and police intimidation and harassment, demanding the United Nations and international community to heed Tamil calls for justice and accountability. 

Last month, major Tamil political leaders, Tamil civil society actors and Tamil victim community representatives signed a statement declaring that there is "no scope" for a domestic accountability mechanism within Sri Lanka and jointly called for an international accountability process, including a referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Multiple human rights organisations have encouraged the recommendations of the UN High Commissioner. Human Rights Watch (HRW) endorsed targeted sanctions on Sri Lankan officials credibly accused of war crimes, as well as the establishment of an independent international mechanism to investigate violations of international law, stating:

“The Human Rights Council has given Sri Lanka every opportunity to address these issues over many years, and now greater international involvement is needed to help protect vulnerable groups and hold those responsible for grave international crimes to account”

HRW called on UN member states to act on the High Commissioners recommendations to adopt a new resolution which enhances scrutiny of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and would “pursue accountability for past and recent violations”. Further adding,

 “Foreign governments need to recognize Sri Lanka’s dangerous downturn and act before the situation deteriorates further”.

In response to the UN Report, Amnesty International demanded the Core Group to present a “meaningful proposal” ensuring accountability for Sri Lankan war crimes, and urged the UN to establish an international accountability mechanism in Sri Lanka to monitor the human rights situations, warning that if there was insufficient progress, that the Human Rights Council must take “international action to ensure accountability”. Amnesty International stated:

 “For more than a decade, domestic processes have manifestly failed thousands of victims and their families. Given the government’s decision to walk away from resolution 30/1, and regression on the limited progress that had been made, the Human Rights Council must send a clear message that accountability will be pursued with or without the cooperation of the government.”

Further adding,

 “The onus is now on these countries, with the support of other UNHRC member states, to present a meaningful proposal that responds credibly to the damning findings and concrete recommendations of this UN report, by putting the Sri Lankan government under proper scrutiny and once again working towards an accountability process agreed at the international level”.

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