South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, says the full promise of governance reform, transitional justice and economic revival in Sri Lanka, has yet to be delivered and risks stalling or dissipating.

The following observations were made in the advanced version of the Human Rights Chief’s oral report, which is to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Prince Zeid Al Hussein states that Negotiating party politics and power sharing within the coalition has proved complex and that this is manifest in an extensive cabinet with overlapping ministerial mandates, and mixed messages on issues like accountability.

Al Hussein also calls for a more comprehensive Bill of Rights, stronger institutional checks and balances, enhanced constitutional review, improved guarantees for the independence of the judiciary, effective individual complaints mechanisms and greater direct enforceability of international human rights treaties.

However, it states that the High Commissioner remains convinced that international participation in the accountability mechanisms would be a necessary guarantee for the independence and impartiality of the process in the eyes of victims, as Sri Lanka’s judicial institutions currently lack the credibility needed to gain their trust.

He hails important symbolic steps towards promoting reconciliation including the de-listing of a number of proscribed Tamil diaspora organisations and individuals and the decision to sing the national anthem in both Sinhala and Tamil on Independence Day.

Overall, he concludes, “the Human Rights Council should be encouraged thus far by the steps that the Government of Sri Lanka has taken to implement some of the key commitments made in Resolution 30/1”.

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and Mano Tittawella, the Secretary-General of the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms, are in Geneva to attend the UN Human Rights Council sessions.

Updated On: Jun 28, 2016