Canadian Tamil Congress appreciates Revised Draft Resolution on Promoting reconciliation, accountability, and human rights
in Sri Lanka
( March 18, 2014, Geneva, Switzerland, Sri Lanka Guardian) Nearly five years have passed since the end of the brutal armed conflict in Sri Lanka, where UN estimates suggest that at least 40,000 to 70,000 people were killed in the last phase of the war alone. United Nations Human Rights Council draft resolution 25/1 (revised), if adopted, would finally serve as a meaningful step towards accountability and justice in Sri Lanka, in line with recommendations by many previous UN bodies. The clarification and strengthened language in the latest revision addresses many of the concerns previously raised by the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC).
Both the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam stand accused of committing serious crimes and international human rights violations. The Panel of Experts Report commissioned by the United Nations Secretary General in 2011 concluded that sufficient evidence exists which, if proven, would amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The new revised draft resolution directs the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to, “lead a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka and establish the facts and circumstances of such violations.” In seeking to “establish the facts”, the new resolution can be seen as a continuum of the High Commissioner’s Report, that will serve to bring those who committed heinous crimes to justice.
“The United Nations Human Rights Council has a historic opportunity to do right for the Tamil population of the North and East of Sri Lanka, and ensure that justice is not denied. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights can finally establish an independent, international mechanism that will enable it to make findings of fact. This is a critical pre-cursor to any form of accountability required by the victims of these crimes,” stated Gary Anandasangaree, Legal Counsel to the Canadian Tamil Congress.
“Time has run out for the government of Sri Lanka. It has lost the credibility to address serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Today, the international community has signaled its willingness to seek the truth, with or without the support of Sri Lanka,” concluded Anandasangaree.
While CTC appreciates the clarity in the mandate given to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights by this draft text, it continues to make constructive recommendations to strengthen the draft, and engage in the process to its completion. In this regard, CTC acknowledges the enduring efforts of the Government of Canada in its quest to bring accountability and peace to the island of Sri Lanka.