HR experts call for renewed UN scrutiny and efforts to ensure accountability in SL

Distress and anxiety have mounted among victims and their families as the Government has signaled a different approach to the issue and cast uncertainty over the future of the Office on Missing Persons and the Office for Reparations. Also, war widows and women relatives of the disappeared who search for truth, justice and accountability, as well as women activists who advocate on their behalf face particular risks.

Numerous recommendations made on the prohibition of torture, including repealing the Prevention of Terrorism Act, remain unaddressed, the experts said. Prison reform appears to be on the Government’s agenda but root causes remain to be addressed and conditions of detention often amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. More broadly, allegations of custodial deaths, abduction and torture continue to arise.

The experts said the Government’s failure to address impunity was a cause of utmost concern. In February 2009, a different set of 10 UN experts highlighted that “impunity has been allowed to go unabated throughout Sri Lanka. The fear of reprisals against victims and witnesses, together with a lack of effective investigations and prosecutions, has led to a circle of impunity that must be broken”.

“It is extremely disheartening that the diagnosis remains the same 12 years after,” the experts said in their 2021 assessment. “Sri Lanka’s long history of largely unrelated and inconsequential commissions of inquiry has increased mistrust in the Government’s determination to genuinely redress violations. There is little hope that any domestic accountability measures will progress or achieve any degree of credibility.

“It is against this backdrop, that we wish to reiterate the urgency to implement the recommendations made in our country visits’ reports which remain valid and of utmost importance. We call on the UN Human Rights Council and the international community to keep the human rights situation in Sri Lanka under a high level of scrutiny and to explore all possible options for advancing accountability in the country, including through further international accountability measures.”

They said the Human Rights Council and Member States should therefore strengthen independent monitoring, analysis and reporting of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and establish an impartial and independent international accountability mechanism which would seek to build upon the work conducted by different UN mechanisms by investigating, compiling, and analyzing information.


Leave a Reply