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UN rights body adopts resolution on Sri Lanka

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] on Thursday passed a resolution [A/HRC/22, text] to promote reconciliation and accountability in war-torn Sri Lanka [JURIST news archive], a nation facing various allegations of human rights violations. Calling for an "independent and credible international investigation into alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law," the resolution encourages Sri Lanka to fulfill its legal obligations under the UN Charter [text, PDF] to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for its citizens in the continued effort to rebuild after the country's long-endured civil war, which ended approximately four years ago. Sri Lanka's representative to the UNHRC, however, argued that the implementing such new procedures would endanger the ongoing reconciliation process [BBC report] within the nation. The resolution was ultimately adopted with 25 countries, including the US, voting in favor, 13 against, and eight abstentions.

The Sri Lankan government has faced various allegations of human rights violations and war crimes by civil rights organizations and the UN since the end of its civil war in 2009, and the most recent surge in criticism has come over the past few months. Last month Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported that Sri Lankan authorities are using rape as a technique to extract confessions [JURIST report] from suspected members or supporters of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [Council on Foreign Relations backgrounder]. In the same week, lawyers for HRW sent a letter to the UNHRC [JURIST report] calling for an independent investigation of Sri Lanka's compliance with its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) [text, PDF]. Also last month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] criticized Sri Lanka's failure to adequately investigate abuses [JURIST report].

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