UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official profile] presented his report on Sri Lanka [press release] to the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday, stating that much work remains to make Sri Lanka’s judiciary conform with international expectations. Furthermore, many expressed concerns about Sri Lanka’s anti-terrorism act, which grants extraordinary police powers leading to allegations of torture, overcrowded prisons, and general due process violations. Sri Lanka officials present at the meeting reaffirmed their nation’s commitments to promoting human rights and establishing a fair and impartial justice system. Delegates from the US, Canada, European Union, UK, Australia, Ireland and many other countries acknowledged the progress made by Sri Lanka with respect to following through with its human rights and justice commitments, but also pointed out that many challenges such as torture, and sexual and gender-based violence remain.
Sri Lanka’s human rights record and the role of the judiciary have been causes of international concern in recent years. In January a Sri Lanka panel recommended [JURIST report] that the nation temporarily adopt a hybrid court with both local and international judges working in tandem to adjudicate war crime allegations stemming from the nation’s civil war. Last May a UN rights expert said that Sri Lanka was still torturing suspects [JURIST report] seven years after the conclusion of the civil war. The UN originally reported [JURIST report] that war crimes may have been committed in the Sri Lanka civil war in September 2015.