Sri Lanka’s defence secretary hits back at HRW over threatening Tamil families of disappeared

Sri Lanka’s defence secretary hit back at Human Rights Watch (HRW) last week, denying reports that the security forces had been threatening Tamil families of the disappeared, and claimed these were part of efforts to “discredit” Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council. HRW reported that Sri Lankan security Forces, as well as intelligence agencies, have “intensified surveillance and threats" against the families of the disappeared and activists, since the election of Gotabaya Rajapaksa as president in November 2019. One activist in the North-East told the human rights organisation that prior...

'Sri Lanka joins ignominious ranks of Myanmar, Syria and North Korea' - HRW

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released a statement detailing the repeated failure of Sri Lanka to establish “a trustworthy domestic mechanism to address impunity” and urged the UN Human Rights Council to "create an international accountability mechanism as a matter of urgency" . According to HRW, Sri Lanka has continued to fail to deliver meaningful accountability due to ‘a lack of judicial independence, risk of reprisals, political interference, and “the deep-seated and institutionalised impunity that generates the risk of such violations being repeated”’. HRW maintains that for these reasons...

Countries react to Sri Lanka’s withdrawal from UN resolution

On Thursday at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) 43 rd session, several countries reacted to Sri Lanka’s withdrawal of co-sponsorship from council resolutions on promoting accountability, reconciliation and human rights on the island. Most countries expressed disappointment and concern at Sri Lanka’s decision. “Those who were directly affected by the conflict, including the families of the disappeared, require closure and answers in order to build sustainable peace,” the Canadian mission said. UN human rights chief urges Council to ‘explore all possible avenues’ for accountability in Sri...

Another Tamil grandmother dies searching for disappeared grandson

A Tamil woman who has been protesting for more than three years, demanding information on her forcibly disappeared grandson, passed away on Wednesday. Selvam Sivapakkiyam, originally from Mukamalai, Jaffna, but temporarily living in Puthukkudiyiruppu, has been joined hundreds of other Tamil protestors across the North-East, as she searched for her grandson in Mullaitivu. Her grandson Alfred Thinu was last seen in Vadduvakal in 2009, where he had surrendered to the Sri Lankan army as he crossed into government-controlled territory. Over 60 Tamil women have now passed away since Tamil families...

‘See our tears and scars’ – Tamil torture survivors write to UN human rights chief

A group of Tamil torture survivor, who suffered rights violations at the hands of Sri Lankan security forces, wrote to the UN human rights chief earlier this week, criticising her failure to acknowledge ongoing torture on the island. Your report this week… caused us great hurt and anguish,” said the letter. “You erased us from the record.”

Sri Lanka defends Silva and lashes out at UN critics

Sri Lanka’s foreign minister spoke out against member states who had expressed disappointment at Colombo’s withdrawal from a UN resolution this morning, as he launched a staunch defence of the Sri Lankan army chief who was recently subjected to sanctions by the United States. Sri Lanka’s minister of foreign relations Dinesh Gunawardena doubled down on his regime’s decision to withdraw from co-sponsoring a resolution that mandated a hybrid accountability mechanism, telling the UN Human Rights Council this morning that it remained “undeliverable”. The minister specifically targeted “those who...

UN human rights chief urges Council to ‘explore all possible avenues’ for accountability in Sri Lanka

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed her “regret” at the Sri Lankan government’s announcementof officially withdrawing co-sponsorship of a resolution and called on the Human Rights Council to “to remain alert to this situation in terms of prevention and to explore all possible avenues for advancing accountability”. In her oral update address to the Council in Geneva this morning, Michelle Bachelet said she was “not convinced the appointment of yet another Commission of Inquiry” would amount to any accountability for rights violations, as in Sri Lanka "domestic processes have...

Foreign minister officially pulls Sri Lanka out of resolution in Geneva

Sri Lanka’s foreign minister has officially announced the country’s decision to withdraw from co-sponsorship of the UN Human Rights Council resolutions ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’. Speaking in Geneva on Wednesday, minister of foreign relations Dinesh Gunawardena criticised the previous government’s decision to co-sponsor Resolution 30/1 and subsequent resolutions. “It remains to date a blot on the sovereignty and dignity of Sri Lanka,” he said. The minister also laid into the allegedly “much flawed” OISL report which was used to “unjustly vilify...

Paramilitary leader Pillayan remand extended again

The paramilitary leader Pillayan who is in detention over the 2005 assassination of TNA MP Joseph Pararajasingham has had his remand extended by the Batticaloa High Court. The Batticaloa High Court judge adjourned the trial further until March 17, extending the remand of Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, alias Pillayan, formerly a deputy of LTTE defector turned paramilitary leader Karuna. In October last year, Pillayan was visited in jail by current Sri Lankan prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. Pararajasingham, who was a senior Tamil National Alliance (TNA) figure, and the MP for Batticaloa...

Tamil journalist killed in No Fire Zone commemorated

Tamil journalist Puniyamoorthy Sathiyamoorthy, who was killed by Sri Lankan army shelling in the ‘No Fire Zone’ 11 years ago, was commemorated in Batticaloa this week. Sathiyamoorthy was massacred alongside tens of thousands of other Tamils during the military offensive more than a decade ago, as he sheltered inside a government declared ‘No Fire Zone’. The area was repeatedly subjected to Sri Lankan military shelling, despite the state’s pledges. The Committee to Protect Journalists wrote on his death, stating , “Colleagues outside of the conflict area, not all of them Tamils, said...

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