British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Sara Hulton says the Core Group on Sri Lanka plans to take forward a further resolution to promote reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka at the upcoming Human Rights Council Session.
The statement issued by the Core Group – consisting of UK, Canada, Germany, North Macedonia, Malawi and Montenegro – stressed that there is an ‘ongoing importance’ of addressing Sri Lanka in the Human Rights Council.
The Core Group on Sri Lanka will take forward a further resolution to promote reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka at the upcoming Human Rights Council Session. pic.twitter.com/VZ2LBRZFdk— Sarah Hulton OBE (@SarahHultonFCDO) February 19, 2021
“The Core Group pays tribute to the people of Sri Lanka and wishes to highlight our ongoing commitment to accountability, reconciliation and inclusive peace in Sri Lanka.”
Statement read that the Core Group recognizes and welcomes the progress made by the Sri Lankan government in rebuilding infrastructure, demining, land return and resettling internally displaced persons.
However, it is clear that more needs to be done to address the ‘harmful legacies of war’ and build a sustainable peace in the country, the Core Group reiterated.
It went on to say that the United Nations Human Rights Council will consider an important report recently published by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on human rights, reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka.
The Core Group highlighted that it has been important for them to work collaboratively and constructively with the Sri Lankan government over the last five years. “Consequently, we have engaged with the Government of Sri Lanka in preparation for the Council.”
“The Core Group restates the ongoing importance of addressing Sri Lanka in the Human Rights Council. Informed by the report, the Core Group intends to present a resolution to promote reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka.”
In her report published in late January, the UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet had stressed that the failure of Sri Lanka to address past violations has significantly heightened the risk of human rights violations being repeated.
She also called for an International Criminal Court investigation into Sri Lanka’s Tamil separatist conflict and sanctions on military officials accused of war crimes.
“Domestic initiatives for accountability and reconciliation have repeatedly failed to produce results, more deeply entrenching impunity, and exacerbating victims’ distrust in the system,” the report read. It went on to say that the government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has reversed some advances made under previous administrations in protecting human rights.
Sri Lankan government, in response, stated that it plans to reject the report compiled by the UN rights chief on alleged human rights violations in the country. Sri Lanka’s response to the report, which has already been submitted in writing, will be made public when Foreign Affairs Minister Dinesh Gunawardena addresses the UN Human Rights Council.
Core Group’s resolution comes at a time when Sri Lanka is maintaining a mandatory cremation policy for victims of Covid-19 infection. The move was widely criticized locally and internationally, as it goes against the dictates of Muslim community’s faith. UN human rights experts have been urging the Sri Lankan Government to end the policy.