Responding to the UN human rights chief's report on Sri Lanka, representatives from the US, Canada, UK and Germany have renewed their commitment to human rights and accountability on the island, with calls for accountability and sanctions. on officials implicated in war crimes.
This statement follows Sri Lanka’s foreign secretary, former admiral Jayanath Colombage, denouncement of the report as “unfair and unjust”. Colombage, who stands accused of being complicit in torture, has accused the UN of bias and of using human rights as a tool “to coax smaller countries”. During an interview last week, he further revealed that his regime is awaiting a draft of a consensual resolution from the Core Group in Geneva.
Human rights organisations have slammed calls for a consensual resolution maintaining it will "achieve nothing".
US Senator Robert Menendez, a Ranking Member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also tweeted that the report “underlines the declining state of human rights, reconciliation, & accountability in Sri Lanka”.
“I agree with [Bachelet's] call for sanctions on officials implicated in war crimes,” he added.
The @UNHumanRights report underlines the declining state of human rights, reconciliation, & accountability in Sri Lanka. The international community must defend these values. I agree w/ @mbachelet's call for sanctions on officials implicated in war crimes. https://t.co/RGtageDmnB
— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) January 28, 2021
Representative Gregory Meeks, serving the 5th Congressional District of New York, maintained that “if the [Sri Lankan] government is unwilling to consider enacting the report’s recommendations, the US & partners must explore alternative options as laid out by Michelle Bachelet”.
The US Foreign Select Committee reported on Twitter:
Chair @RepGregoryMeeks: I share many of the concerns in this @UNHumanRights report on Sri Lanka. If the gov’t is unwilling to consider enacting the report’s recommendations, the U.S. & partners must explore alternative options as laid out by @mbachelet.https://t.co/zfapTPSwaa
— House Foreign Affairs Committee (@HouseForeign) January 28, 2021
Julian Braithwaite, UK Permanent Representative to the WTO & UN in Geneva, further emphasised the importance of human rights and accountability stating on Twitter:
The UK will be considering the important new @UNHumanRights report on Sri Lanka.
We will continue to support human rights and accountability in Sri Lanka at the upcoming session of UN Human Rights Council.
Full report here: https://t.co/rcSr9sbWwC
— Julian Braithwaite (@JulianWTO_UN) January 27, 2021
Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marc Garneau, also supported these claims tweeting:
The @UNHumanRights report on #SriLanka underscores the importance of a steadfast commitment to reconciliation and accountability. Canada continues to support efforts to ensure accountability, peace and reconciliation on the island. https://t.co/I5jyyGoP1s
— Marc Garneau (@MarcGarneau) January 28, 2021
Germany's Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, Bärbel Kofler, also expressed "grave concern" stating on Twitter:
The report published by @UNHumanRights yesterday is cause for grave concern about the situation of human rights in #SriLanka . I am pleased that Germany remains committed to reconciliation and accountability, also through the #HumanRightsCouncil.
— Bärbel Kofler, MdB (@BaerbelKofler) January 28, 2021