UN High Commissioner Unconvinced COI Will Advance Sri Lanka’s Agenda

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, urged the Sri Lankan Government to preserve and build upon the gains which have been made over the last few years.

“I regret that the new Government has announced a very different approach to the commitments previously made in the resolution which risks setting back efforts to advance reconciliation, accountability, and human rights”, said Bachelet, at the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

“Independent institutions, strengthened under the 19th Constitutional Amendment, are a key pillar in its democratic structure. The increasing levels of hate speech, and security and policy measures appear to be discriminately and disproportionately directed against minorities, both Tamil and Muslim”, she further added.

“Domestic processes have consistently failed to deliver accountability in the past and I have not convinced the appointment of yet another Commission of Inquiry will advance this agenda”, she said.

Foreign Minster Dinesh Gunawardena highlighted on the Human Rights Council in Geneva he hopes the Council would appreciate the approach of focusing on deliverable measures of reconciliation that are in line with the interest of Srilanka and its people instead of the practice of taking on a host of undeliverable commitments with the intentions of never implementing them.

“We wish to reiterate the council Sri Lanka’s commitment expressed during the high-level segment to achieve sustainable peace through an inclusive, domestically designed and executed reconciliation and accountability process”, responded Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena to the UN High Commissioner

“A Commission of Inquiry (COI) headed by a justice of the Supreme court will be appointed to review the reports of previous Srilankan COIs which investigated alleged violations of Human rights and International Humanitarian Law (IHL) to access the status of implementation of their recommendations, and to propose deliverable measures to implement them keeping in line with the new government’s policy”, said Gunawardena at the Human Rights Council.

On the Other Hand, the United Kingdom and Canada expressed their disappointment with Sri Lanka’s decision to withdraw its co-sponsorship from a UN Resolution and urged Sri Lanka to protect human rights, and focus on reconciliation, justice and accountability.

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