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ICJ calls upon Sri Lanka to uphold commitments to human rights accountability

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) joined the chorus of growing international voices concerned over the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as prime minister of Sri Lanka and called on the government to comply with a UN resolution.

“The Human Rights Council will be watching closely to assess whether Sri Lanka is in breach of its commitments,” said Frederick Rawski, the Asia Pacific Director for the ICJ.

“Any serious threat to progress on human rights accountability will compel the establishment of an independent accountability mechanism”.

The ICJ also urged current Sri Lankan president Sirisena to end the political crisis by reconvening parliament, in a statement issued yesterday.

“The ICJ is alarmed that Mahinda Rajapaksa, who has yet to be held accountable for the well-documented human rights violations committed during his previous tenure, has been appointed Prime Minister – in apparent violation of the Constitution”.

The organisation went on to call upon the Government of Sri Lanka to fulfill its obligation to the transitional justice process, including holding those who committed human rights violations and abuses accountable.

“The failure to address past abuses, and to fully implement UN Human Rights Council Resolutions 30/1 and 34/1, has helped set the stage for the current political turmoil, and the possible return of an authoritarian figure who has proven his disrespect for human rights and the rule of law over and over,” Rawski said.

The statement outlined the ICJ’s unease with the Sirisena’s neglect of the provisions in the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. The ICJ also expressed concern over Sirisena’s attempt to dodge criticism by proroguing Parliament until November 16th, intensifying the political turmoil on the island.

The ICJ made mention of the growing violence and the seizure of government-controlled media by ardent Rajapaksa supporters, reminiscent of the human rights violations and abuse perpetrated throughout Rajapaksa’s term.

The continuous restrictions on the media and attacks on fundamental human rights and freedom was also mentioned in the statement.

“The failure to address past abuses, and to fully implement UN Human Rights Council Resolutions 30/1 and 34/1, has helped set the stage for the current political turmoil, and the possible return of an authoritarian figure who has proven his disrespect for human rights and the rule of law over and over,” Rawski said.

Read the full statement here