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Sri Lanka has not moved fast enough to build confidence among victims says Human Rights Chief

The United Nations Human Rights Chief Prince Zeid Al Hussein, stressed that the “government had not moved fast enough with tangible measures to build confidence among victims and minority communities” adding “ there are anxieties that the full promise of governance reform, transitional justice and economic revival.”

Addressing the Human Rights Council with an interim update on Sri Lanka’s progress at implementing resolution 30/1 on reconciliation and accountability, Mr Hussein said,

“I remain convinced the international participation in the accountability mechanisms, as stipulated in the Human Rights Council’s resolution, would be a necessary guarantee for the credibility, independence and impartiality of the process in the eyes of victims given the magnitude and complexity of the alleged international crimes, which the OHCHR investigation could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Mr Hussein added that consultation processes must allow for victims “on the participation of international actors” and with a view to “shaping the design of transitional justice programmes”

Noting that “military presence in the North and east remains heavy,”  he added, “ A culture of surveillance and, in certain instances, intimidation also persists. These point to a deeper challenge for the Government in asserting full control over military intelligence establishment.”

Suggesting that the council should be encouraged by Sri Lanka’s steps so far, the Human Rights Chief caveated,  “continuing allegations of human rights violations must be swiftly addressed and the structures and institutional culture that promoted those practices be dismantled, to show there will be no tolerance for practices of the past.”

The Rights Chief added that “the fate of remaining persons detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act  remains a concern.”  Calling for the repeal of the legislation , Mr Hussein said,

“New security laws to replace the PTA are reportedly being drafted. I hope these laws will address the many observations made by UN human rights mechanisms and the drafting process will be transparent.”

Commenting on the Office of Missing Persons draft bill, Mr Hussein said,

“if conducted without transparency, it could undermine the parallel consultation process and involvement of victims.”

Mr Zeid Al Hussein warned the council that Sri Lanka’s process will take time and reiterated the need for the Human Rights Council to be fully engaged, stating, “support of the Human Rights Council has been crucial, and I hope that the Human Rights Council will sustain its close engagement.”

The Human Rights Chief said the full version of the oral update was available as a conference room paper.

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Countries reiterate need for international participation in Sri Lanka's accountability mechanism (29 Jun 2016)