Thursday, 21 March 2019 07:55

March, October 2018 events impeded reforms - Bachelet

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The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, yesterday called on the Sri Lankan Government to implement a detailed and comprehensive strategy for the transitional justice process with a fixed timeline.

“Legislation on the establishment of an independent Truth and Reconciliation Commission could be an important next step,” she added.

Presenting her report on Sri Lanka to the UN Human Rights Council yesterday, Bachelet said the events leading to the declaration of a state of emergency in March last year, and the constitutional crisis in October, created a political environment not conducive to the implementation of reform measures tabled under the High Commissioner’s report on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka.

She also highlighted the critical role of Sri Lanka’s independent commissions, particularly the National Human Rights Commission.

“Respect for their independence and implementation of the Commissions’ recommendations are needed to entrench the rule of law in Sri Lanka,” she said.

High Commissioner Bachelet in her report on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka to the council acknowledged Sri Lanka government’s open dialogue and sustained co-ooperation with her office.

She also welcomed the operationalisation of Office of Missing Persons and the release of lands occupied by the military in the North and the East provinces.

She added that the implementation of resolution 30/1 needs to be more consistent, comprehensive and accelerated. “A contributing factor to delays appears to be lack of common vision among the country’s highest leadership,” he said.

“Today, my Office encourages the Government to implement a detailed and comprehensive strategy for the transitional process with a fixed timeline. Legislation on the establishment of an independent Truth and Reconciliation Commission could be an important next step”, she said.

Bachelet outlined that there is very minimal progress on accountability.

“My report details the steps taken over a lengthy period to address several emblematic cases, and the lack of progress in setting up a special judicial mechanism to deal with the worst crimes committed during the 2009 conflict. Continuing impunity risks fuelling communal or inter-ethnic violence, and instability. Resolving these cases, and bringing the perpetrators of past crimes to justice, is necessary to restore the confidence of victims from all communities.

She added that she is deeply concerned about the calls to reinstate the application of the death penalty after more than forty years of moratorium.

“I emphasise that in co-sponsoring resolutions 30/1 and 34/1, the Government recognised the need to address the past in order to build a future securely grounded in accountability, respect for human rights and the rule of law. For victims and for society, this need continues,” she said.

(Daily News)

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