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UN HR Council Mandates Sri Lanka War Crimes Investigation

March 28th, 2014

The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution mandating an international inquiry into allegations of major human rights violations in Sri Lanka during the last seven years of the war, with 23 countries voting in favor of the document in the 47-nation strong body. While 12 countries including Pakistan, Maldives, Cuba, Venezuela, China, Russia voted against the Resolution, 12 member-states abstained from voting, including India and Indonesia.

The Resolution that passed this year’s session of the HR Council is stronger than those of previous years, largely due to the recent report on Sri Lanka by Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Her report concluded that the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), which identified the need to ensure independent and credible investigations into past violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, had failed in this. The UN estimated that 40,000 people – mostly Tamil civilians – were killed in the final stages of the war. Other estimates run as high as 80,000. Both sides have been accused of war crimes.

The International Crisis Group, the Chair and CEO of which is Louise Arbour, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, asserts that the “… government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) has failed to comply with two successive Human Rights Council (HRC) resolutions. Failure is most obvious with respect to accountability for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in the final phase of the civil war, but also by the lack of devolution of power, ongoing militarisation of the north and east, and deepening authoritarianism throughout the country. Decisive HRC action now is required in light of GoSL’s repeated failures to undertake the necessary steps alone; it is necessary also in order to decrease the risk of a return to deadly conflict in Sri Lanka.”

Read the resolution here

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