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The Human Rights Council must establish an accountability mechanism for Sri Lanka’s victims

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Writing in Just Security, Laurel E. Fletcher, Clinical Professor of Law at UC Berkeley, highlights the urgency for members of the Human Rights Council to exercise its power to “establish a mechanism that builds on prior U.N. efforts to investigate atrocity crimes committed during Sri Lanka’s armed conflict and collects and preserves evidence to support international and foreign prosecutions”.

In her statement she slams the proposed consensus resolution being put forward by the Sri Lankan government as a ploy to shield perpetrators from facing justice.

“This proposal for a consensus resolution, however appealing to some diplomats, should be dismissed as a cynical attempt to evade any international oversight. The HRC must stand up for international rule of law and pass a resolution that establishes an international accountability mechanism capable of delivering justice to victims. The council’s record shows that it has done as much in numerous other cases, and that members historically have taken such action.”

Commenting on the resolution, she called for the core group to take up demands made by Michelle Bachelet in the UNHRC report published last month which warned that “The failure of Sri Lanka to address past violations has significantly heighted the risk of human rights violations being repeated”.

She added:

"The signs are clear: there will be no meaningful progress on accountability if the Sri Lankan government is left on its own. Indeed, the lack of accountability sows the seeds of future conflict. This explains why Bachelet recommends states consider referring the situation in Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court for investigation. She also recommends the council double down on its commitment to promoting criminal prosecutions by creating a mechanism to gather and preserve evidence for prosecutions, and support victims and member states to pursue cases in domestic courts through principles of universal jurisdiction. The council should heed Bachelet’s call and pass a strong resolution that this moment requires."

Read the full article here.

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