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Senate Foreign Relations Chair Supports UN Resolution on Sri Lankan War Crimes Investigation March 19th, 2014
Senator Robert Menendez, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter earlier today addressed to Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The letter supports the US-sponsored Resolution before the UN HR Council in Geneva calling for an international investigation into crimes committed during the Sri Lankan civil war. In his letter, Chairman Menendez also said: “Over the past year, this committee has noted with concern the deteriorating environment for the democratic process and human rights in Sri Lanka. While this is particularly acute in the north, there are also disturbing reports of an increasingly authoritarian approach across the South and East.”
Fr Praveen OMI and Ruki Fernando Released! Ms Jayakumari Still Held. March 19th, 2014
Fr. Praveen Mahesan OMI and Ruki Fernando, both staunch human rights defenders, were released from custody of the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the Sri Lankan government late Tuesday night. The two had been following up on the arrest of Ms Balendran Jayakumari, an outspoken critic of numerous ‘disappearances’, when they themselves were arrested. Ms Jayakumari, an activist who has vigorously protested the ‘disappearance’ of Tamils (including her son) since the end of the civil war in May 2009, is presently being held under a detention order in Boosa prison. By using a DO, she can be held for up to 18 months without formal charges. The Oblate JPIC Office is deeply concerned for her safety and well-being and joins an international demand for her unconditional release. Torture is alleged to be common in Sri Lanka.
The arrests have taken place in the context of an alarming crackdown on human rights defenders and others protesting various abuses by government military forces, especially in the past five years.
Weak UN Resolution on Sri Lanka Creates Problems March 12th, 2014
In a well-reasoned analysis of the situation in Sri Lanka, JS Tissainayagam argues that the UN resolution put forward by the United States at the UN Human Rights Council needs to be strengthened in order to avoid creating additional problems in Sri Lanka. According to the award-winning Sri Lankan journalist, “A resolution that establishes a weak investigating body will only render ineffectual what the international community says it is working for – strengthening human rights to promote reconciliation in a country recovering from war.” Even worse, a weak resolution is likely to lead to less protection for human rights advocates and discourage those who have been working for justice. It would also undermine the legitimacy and relevance of political party voted into power in the north, which has called for a credible investigation as the basis for negotiation of a political solution.
A group of NGOs, including VIVAT International, has issued a petition calling for a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Climate Change at the Human Rights Council. VIVAT International, of which the Oblates are a member, is a strong supporter of this petition and is asking members of our network to support the initiative.
We encourage you to sign on as an individual or on behalf of your congregation, if you are delegated to do so.
To read and sign the petition please visit the following link: http://www.petitions24.com/sr_human_rights_and_climate_change
According to the UN, “global warming will affect, and already is affecting, the basic elements of life for millions of people around the world. Effects include an increasing frequency of extreme weather events, rising sea levels, droughts, increasing water shortages, and the spread of tropical and vector born diseases.”
“Viewing the data through a human rights lens, it is clear that projected climate change-related effects threaten the effective enjoyment of a range of human rights, such as the right to safe and adequate water and food, the right to health and adequate housing. Equally, the human rights perspective brings into focus that climate change is set to hit the poorest countries and communities the hardest.”
“The international human rights standards serve as a guide for measures to tackle climate change, underscoring the fundamental moral and legal obligations to protect and promote full enjoyment of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the core universal human rights treaties.”
Sri Lanka Resolution Passes UN Human Rights Council March 26th, 2012
The UN Human Rights Council voted Last Thursday (March 22nd) in favor of a resolution calling on the government of Sri Lanka to end impunity for human rights abuses. Allegations of war crimes committed in the final stages of the decades-long civil conflict have dogged the government in Colombo.
The resolution calls on Sri Lanka to “credibly investigate” alleged abuses committed toward the end of the country’s bitter civil war and asks the government to explain how it addresses alleged violations of international humanitarian law, as well as how Sri Lanka would implement the recommendations of an internal inquiry into the war. It also encourages the UN human rights office to provide Sri Lanka with advice and assistance and for the government to accept the advice.
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People’s Guide to the UN Human Right to Water and Sanitation June 21st, 2011
The Council of Canadians has released a new report titled Our Right to Water: A People’s Guide to Implementing the United Nations’ Recognition of the Right to Water and Sanitation. Chairperson Maude Barlow wrote the report, available from the Council of Canadians.
On July 28, 2010 the General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution recognizing the Human Right to Water and Sanitation. Two months later, the UN Human Rights Council recognized the human right to water and sanitation in a similar resolution, setting out exactly what this new right entails for governments. Because the Human Rights Council resolution is based on two existing treaties, it rendered binding the first right to water resolution passed by the General Assembly. In other words, as the UN acknowledges, “The right to water and sanitation is a human right, equal to all other human rights, which implies that it is justiciable and enforceable.”
“All governments are now bound by these historic UN resolutions. Whether or not they voted for the two resolutions, every member nation of the UN is now obligated to accept and recognize the human right to water and sanitation and come up with a plan of action based on the obligation to respect, the obligation to protect and the obligation to fulfil these new rights,” says Barlow.