UNHRC calls for human rights investigations in Sri Lanka News
UNHRC calls for human rights investigations in Sri Lanka

[JURIST] The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] on Thursday adopted a resolution [A_HRC_30_L.29 text, DOC] encouraging the government of Sri Lanka to investigate violence toward human rights activists and minority groups, and create a scheme for reporting violations of human rights and humanitarian law. Based on the recommendations, the Sri Lankan government has expressed interest [Reuters report] in creating a judicial process to investigate war crimes committed during its 26-year civil war. The resolution, adopted without a vote, urges the Sri Lankan government to ensure that investigations are conducted by special courts with international judges, counsel and investigators. Additionally, the UNHRC called on the Sri Lankan military to perform more thorough vetting of its personnel to ensure that “no scope exists for retention in or recruitment … of anyone credibly implicated … in serious crimes involving human rights violations or abuses or violations of international humanitarian law.” The UNHRC also invited the country to speak at the commission’s 32nd session and submit a comprehensive report explaining its implementation [press release] of the recommendations. Amnesty International (AI) [official website] called the resolution a “turning point” [statement] for victims of conflict. AI South Asia Research Director David Griffiths cautioned that “[i]t will also be up to the international community and the Sri Lankan authorities to ensure that victims and their families are genuinely consulted at every step of the process to get to truth and justice”.

The UN released a report in September finding that war crimes may have been committed [JURIST report] during the Sri Lankan civil war. Later that month, the President of Sri Lanka rejected [JURIST report] a UN recommendation for international involvement in its domestic investigation of the war crimes. The UN report came amid mounting pressure on the Sri Lankan government from human rights groups and the international community to investigate and prosecute abuses during the conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [CFR backgrounder]. Last year, then-US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Stephen Rapp called on Sri Lanka to investigate rights abuses [JURIST report] by security forces during the civil war. In 2013, UK Prime Minister David Cameron demanded [JURIST report] that the Sri Lankan government conduct its own investigation into war crime allegations. Earlier that year, then-UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called on [JURIST report] Sri Lanka to improve its human rights record.