ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL DISCUSSES REPORTS ON MALI, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC AND SRI LANKA

26 March 2014

The Human Rights Council today discussed reports on Mali, the Central African Republic and Sri Lanka.  It held separate interactive dialogues with the Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Mali and the Independent Expert on the human rights situation in the Central African Republic.  The Council then heard the presentation of the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Sri Lanka, which was followed by a discussion.

Suliman Baldo, Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Mali, said that Mali had made remarkable progress in implementing its strategy to emerge from its multifaceted crisis.  Despite significant progress, the country remained fragile.  It was of concern that armed jihadist groups were involved in grave violations in the north of the country.  Information was also collected on cases of grave human rights violations committed by the national liberation movement (MNLA), and by the Malian army against the civilian population in the north.  There was particular concern about recent cases of violence between various ethnic communities in the north.

Mali, speaking as the concerned country, said that the crisis in Mali had led to gross human rights violations, including enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, summary executions, rapes and sexual violence, torture, mutilations and pillaging of cultural artefacts.  Mali was now committed to addressing these violations through an independent and impartial justice.  Despite the difficulties, progress had been made during the past six months with regards to the fight against impunity.  Mali called on the international community to support these efforts.

In the discussion on Mali, speakers were pleased by the cooperation between the Independent Expert and Mali’s authorities.  The situation in Mali had significantly changed and steps towards the restoration of the constitutional order and the legitimacy of the State had been taken, but much remained to be done, and the complexity of the challenges faced was recognised.  Concern was expressed about the recent wave of violence between ethnic communities in the north of the country and by ongoing acts of sexual violence committed by armed groups.  The fight against impunity was of great importance.   

Speaking in the discussion were European Union, France, Togo, Morocco, Austria, United States, Ireland, Algeria, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Australia, Belgium, Egypt, Senegal, United Nations Children’s Fund, United Kingdom, Burkina Faso, Switzerland, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Spain, Sudan, China, and Djibouti.

World Vision International, Femmes Afrique Solidarite, Human Rights Watch, International Federation for Human Rights Leagues, and International Catholic Child Bureau also spoke.

Marie-Therese Keita Bocoum, Independent Expert on the human rights situation in the Central African Republic, in an oral update said that most rights were violated in the Central African Republic and noted the low capacity of the State to tackle violations and protect citizens in the capital and elsewhere.  The crisis was multidimensional, with intercommunity and interfaith aspects.  To avoid chaos, there could no longer simply be patchwork or cosmetic solutions.  The transitional Government had less than a year to prepare elections and improve the human rights situation.  Without real assistance to ensure the State could operate, it seemed impossible to achieve this aim.  

The Central African Republic, speaking as the concerned country, noted the Independent Expert had raised the same concerns as the High Commissioner for Human Rights after her visit to Bangui in March 2014, and said that a Marshall Plan was needed to save the country from chaos.  Despite the calm in the capital, the situation was still of concern; the Central African Republic existed only on paper and impunity prevailed.  The Central African Republic was not holding its hands out as a beggar; it was the duty of all to help because its geopolitical position meant that if nothing was done, a profound regional crisis would ensue.

In the discussion on the Central African Republic, speakers were very concerned about the worsening of the humanitarian and human rights situation, including extrajudicial executions perpetrated in the absence of the State and in total impunity.  There was an urgent need to combat impunity for serious international crimes and other human rights violations, restore law and order, and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.  Concern was voiced about the inter-religious and inter-ethnic character of the violence, and in particular about the situation of women and children.  All parties were called upon to refrain from the deplorable practice of recruiting and using children in armed groups.  A call was made for a more robust response by the international community and donors to the situation in the Central African Republic. 

Speaking in the discussion were the European Union, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Norway, Togo, Lithuania, France, Spain, Organization for Islamic Cooperation, Belgium, Ireland, Djibouti, Chad, Senegal, Maldives, Algeria, Gabon, United States, Morocco, Australia, Slovakia, China, Sudan, Mexico, and Egypt.   

Femmes Afrique Solidarite, World Evangelical Alliance, Caritas Internationalis, CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Save the Children International, Human Rights Watch, Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, and International Federation for Human Rights Leagues also spoke.

Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights, presenting her Office’s report on Sri Lanka, noted with regret the slow progress in independent and credible investigations into past violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka and recommended that the Human Rights Council establish an independent international inquiry mechanism to further investigate the alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law and monitor domestic process.  The report also provided an overview on recent human rights developments in the country, including attacks on religious minorities and human rights defenders, and on freedom of opinion and expression.

Sri Lanka, speaking as the concerned country, said the recommendation by the High Commissioner to establish an international inquiry mechanism to further investigate alleged violations exceeded the mandate.  Sri Lanka reiterated its categorical rejection of the conclusions and recommendations made in the High Commissioner’s report which reflected bias and unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign State.  Sri Lanka was concerned that some sections of the international community continued to unfairly characterise Government efforts in this regard as being of little significance or distinct from reconciliation.  There were also attempts to portray Sri Lanka as a country in which human rights violations were ongoing.

In the discussion on Sri Lanka, speakers noted the violence and the worsening security situation in Sri Lanka, and the upsurge in attacks on religious minorities, human rights defenders, and on women and girls.  The one gap that really needed addressing was the need for a credible investigation into very serious allegations into war crimes and grave human rights violations committed by both sides to the conflict.  It was important to bring together the country through reconciliation and delegations called upon Sri Lanka to implement a zero tolerance policy and to ensure that perpetrators were held accountable.  Other speakers said that the report of the High Commissioner was another example of the politicization of the Human Rights Council and the application of double standards, and considered that country-specific initiatives were confrontational and counter-productive.  The recommendation the High Commissioner made to establish international inquiry mechanism exceeded her mandate.

Speaking in the general debate were Greece (on behalf of the European Union), Montenegro, United States, France, Ireland, Morocco, United Kingdom, Cuba, Pakistan, Namibia, Russia, China, Sierra Leone, Austria, Venezuela, Japan, Viet Nam, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Egypt, Norway, Switzerland, Sudan, Thailand, Belgium, Canada, Belarus, South Sudan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Denmark, Iran, Zimbabwe, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Bhutan, Uganda, Bolivia, and Nigeria.

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Norwegian Refugee Council, International Commission of Jurists, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada,  Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation, World Barua Organization, International Buddhist Relief Organization, International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, Liberation, Action Contre la Faim, Human Rights Watch, France Libertes Fondation Danielle Miterrand, World Evangelical Alliance, United Nations Watch, CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Amnesty International, International Educational Development, International Buddhist Foundation, Human Rights Law Centre, Le Collectif des Femmes Africaine du Hainaut, Vivekenanda Sevakendra-O-Sishu Uddyan, and Association of World Citizens also spoke.

The Human Rights Council during its afternoon meeting will hear the introduction of country reports of the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Bolivia, Cyprus, Colombia, Guatemala and Iran, to be followed by a general debate.  The Council will then proceed to the election of a member of its Advisory Committee. 

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Mali, Suliman Baldo (A/HRC/25/72).

Presentation by the Independent Expert on the Human Rights Situation in Mali

SULIMAN BALDO, Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Mali, said that during the two missions he had carried out, full cooperation was enjoyed from the Government of Mali and he had been able to meet the highest authorities in the country.  This was clear testimony to the definite political resolve of the authorities to work to improve the enjoyment of human rights of their citizens.  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the international community would have to work together to help Mali transform its political will and commitment to reform into an everyday reality for all the citizens in the country without distinction.  Mali had made remarkable progress in implementing its strategy to emerge from its multifaceted crisis.  In particular, progress had been achieved in respect to the return to constitutional order.  Despite significant progress, the country remained fragile.  It was noted with concern that armed jihadist groups were involved in grave violations in the north of the country, including killings, abduction and rape, among others.  Information was also collected on cases of grave human rights violations committed by the national liberation movement (MNLA).  Information was also received about violations, including summary executions, enforced disappearances, rape and torture, among others, carried out by the Malian army against the civilian population in the north.

There was particular concern about recent cases of violence between various ethnic communities in the north, with loss of lives in the various communities.  The proliferation of weaponry in various communities, as there was no effective State presence, had heightened the risk of violence between and among communities and the risk of human rights violations was particularly high.  One of the most important challenges was to fight impunity.  Impunity was one of the deep-laying causes of the vicious circle of repeated crises in the north of the country since independence.  During earlier crises, conflict settlement procedures had led to political arrangements in the short term, at the expense of a sustainable vision.  The protection of women’s rights and their involvement in the dialogue and peace negotiation process had not been seen as urgent and this was of concern.  The Independent Expert, addressing the Malian Government, stressed the importance of ensuring cohesion, coordination, integration and joint planning amongst the various State bodies and the humanitarian bodies that provided assistance to refugees and displaced persons.

Statement by the Concerned Country

Mali, speaking as the concerned country, said that the crisis in Mali had led to gross human rights violations, including enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, summary executions, rapes and sexual violence, torture, mutilations and pillaging of cultural artefacts.  Mali was now committed to address these violations through an independent and impartial justice.  Despite the difficulties, progress had been made during the past six months with regards to the fight against impunity.  Cases of enforced disappearances had been prosecuted, and efforts would be extended to all other violations in the northern part of the country.  This had been possible through the re-deployment of the justice system and police forces in the north.  National reconciliation was underway and required further reforms of the justice sector.  This reform would include elements to ensure that the justice system was transparent, effective and independent. 

Mali was committed to transitional justice, and had recently established a commission of truth and reconciliation.  Measures had been adopted to strengthen the national human rights institution.  A legal aid fund had been enforced to improve victims’ access to justice.  The fight against impunity was at the heart of the Government’s efforts.  Support units would be established to support the investigation and prosecution of the most serious human rights violations.  Military judges had been trained and a military court would soon be created in Mopti to address human rights violations perpetrated by the armed forces.  Mali called on the international community to support these efforts.  Mali welcomed the cooperation and support of the International Criminal Court to address immunity.  Mali also paid tribute to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali for its support in monitoring human rights violations, ensuring humanitarian aid, monitoring the return of displaced persons, re-establishing the State’s authority and organizing free and fair elections.  Mali fully supported the work of the Independent Expert and the renewal of his mandate.  

Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on the Human Rights Situation in Mali

European Union was pleased by the cooperation between the independent expert and Mali’s authorities.  Today the situation in Mali had significantly changed and steps towards the restoration of the constitutional order and the legitimacy of the State had been taken, but much remained to be done Dialogue among communities was the only basis for a sustainable solution.  France supported the establishment of this mandate and since the outset of the crisis, France had been vocal for the mobilisation of the international community and was pleased that Mali’s Government had taken a clear position with regards to human rights and had taken measures to ensure accountability.  France called on the authorities to hold a sustainable dialogue.  Togo was pleased to see the return to constitutional order and noted measures taken to strengthen inter-community dialogue through the decentralization in the north of the country.  Mali continued to tackle significant challenges concerning the restoration of authority throughout the country.  The delegation also urged the international community to continue to provide assistance.

Morocco said that from the outset it had expressed its solidarity with Mali during the crisis.  Mali had combated the armed groups that threatened its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the country was in the process of transition and reconstruction.  The return to peace, stability, and reconciliation was fundamental and required the support of the international community.  Austria expressed support for the mandate, including its extension, and acknowledged the good cooperation of the Malian authorities and noted the progress made in Mali in consolidating security.  Mali still faced numerous challenges, in particular, because of underlying grievances by the population in the north had not disappeared since the peace agreement.  The fight against impunity was of great importance.   United States welcomed the restoration of democratic governance in Mali, and the success of the 2013 presidential and legislative election.  The United States noted with grave concern the ongoing inter-communal violence among ethnic groups, the operations of rebel movements in the north, as well as allegations of retributive acts by individual members of the armed forces. 


Australia welcomed the return to constitutional order and the improvement in the overall security situation in Mali.  Australia would welcome an elaboration of the Independent Expert’s advice on progressing towards an equitable and credible programme for the reform of the security sector, disarmament and the social reintegration of former combatants.  Algeria welcomed the return to constitutional order and renewed its full support to the Malian authorities as they completed the democratic process.  There needed to be a dialogue between the legitimate authorities and those that had legitimate claims in the country.  A dynamic balance had to be found between the capital and the regions and local realities had to be taken into account.  Ireland was concerned that the precarious human rights situation in the short term could have serious consequences for the long term peace, security and human rights prospects of Mali and the wider Sahel region.  The importance of effectively protecting human rights while countering terrorism could not be overstated. 

Belgium welcomed the progress made by the Government in the restoration of the rule of law and recognition of the rights of victims and acknowledged the complexity of the challenges faced.  Belgium shared concern about the recent wave of violence between ethnic communities in the north of Mali and by ongoing acts of sexual violence committed by armed groups, including as a form of reprisal.  Netherlands welcomed the improvement of the security situation in Mali, but a lot remained to be done and large scale impunity needed to be prevented.  Those responsible for having committed violations of human rights and international humanitarian law needed to be brought to justice, be they members of the Malian armed forces or members of rebel groups.  Czech Republic was pleased to learn about the good cooperation provided by Mali but remained concerned over reported severe human rights violations in the country.  It noted the decision to restructure the dialogue and reconciliation commission.  The Czech Republic asked for the Independent Expert’s opinion on the role of the 2013 presidential and parliamentary elections in the process of national reconciliation.

Egypt welcomed the significant improvement of the security situation in Mali and the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission.  Egypt urged the international community to continue to provide adequate humanitarian assistance to refugees and to assist in their voluntary return.  Senegal commended efforts to consolidate security and the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission.  Senegal was concerned at the remaining lack of security in some parts of the north of the country, and called on the international community to continue providing assistance to authorities to strengthen the rule of law, improve the security situation and combat impunity.   The United Nations Children’s Fund appreciated efforts to finalize a national child protection strategy, and efforts to cooperate with the Committee on the Rights of the Child.  The United Nations Children’s Fund was concerned about the detention of children suspected of having engaged with armed groups and about the remaining sexual violence, exploitation and abuse in the country. 

United Kingdom said much remained to be done to re-build national security in Mali, and encouraged the truth and reconciliation commission to begin its work.  Violent inter-communal clashes still occurred and constituted a threat to security in Mali.  The United Kingdom encouraged Mali to prioritize work to return basic services to the northern part of the country and to address the basic needs of the population there.  Burkina Faso commended initiatives undertaken by the Government to restore peace and stability in the north as well as constitutional order.  Burkina Faso encouraged Mali to strengthen the justice sector and allow it to bring justice to victims and ensure accountability for perpetrators of serious human rights violations.  It urged the international community to continue supporting Mali to overcome the challenges it still faced.  Switzerland said that despites progress made, violence committed by armed groups still occurred in the north of Mali and continued to affect the population.   Switzerland was also concerned about the sexual violence and impunity for human rights abuses.  Switzerland encouraged the deployment of human rights experts throughout the country. 

Niger said that the intervention of the international community side by side with Mali and the parliamentary and presidential elections that had taken place had made it possible to establish democratically elected authorities.  Niger welcomed that the Malian authorities had since been redeploying institutions responsible for security, public order and justice.  Spain congratulated the Government of Mali for its willingness to restore respect for the law and to ensure that justice was done.  The consolidation of the rule of law had to be a priority.  Spain was concerned by the reported impunity for alleged perpetrators of sexual violence in Mali, and about the lack of access of the Independent Expert to detention centres in the north of the country.  Côte d’Ivoire noted that following the elections which restored democratic law and order, Mali had boldly and resolutely striven to breathe fresh life into its national institutions.  The establishment of a truth, justice and reconciliation commission in Mali was welcomed.  Côte d’Ivoire urged the international community, specifically the relevant United Nations bodies, to give flesh to their commitments.

Sudan commended the cooperation of Mali with the Independent Expert through facilitating his stay in the country and arranging several meetings with local and national authorities.  It viewed with appreciation the establishment of the truth, justice and reconciliation commission, and efforts taken by the authorities towards the restoration of the rule of law.  The international community was requested to provide more resources and financial and technical assistance.  Djibouti remained concerned that there continued to be instability in Mali, after presidential and legislative elections were held.  There ought to be efforts in the fight against impunity.  Djibouti recognized that the Government had a will to establish dialogue.  In order to press ahead, efforts to establish a lasting peace had to be supported by the international community.  China said it noted recommendations on promoting national reconciliation and eliminating violence against women.  China supported efforts to safeguard Mali’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and regional peace.  The current political and security situation had made remarkable progress, yet the country still faced many challenges in peace, security and stability and it was hoped that the international community would continue to increase its attention and support to Mali.

World Vision, in a joint statement, welcomed the Independent Expert’s attention to the numerous reports of cases of sexual violence against children, particularly in Kidal, Timbuktu and Gao, but noted that such cases remained widespread.  World Vision expressed concern about the situation of internally displaced persons, as well as the lack of sufficient humanitarian assistance.  Femmes Afrique Solidarité asked Mali to take the necessary measures to ensure the safety of the civilian population.  It was necessary to strengthen access to justice for victims of rights violations through a legal fund, and Femmes Afrique Solidarité called on Mali to ensure that women were protected and were allowed to contribute to the process of consolidating peace and security.  Human Rights Watch supported the renewal of the mandate and agreed with the Expert’s conclusions on the judicial system and on the importance of a truth and reconciliation commission.  Human Rights Watch was concerned about the lack of progress in investigating the numerous other victims of abuses by all warring factors.   Ensuring investigations and trials for crimes committed was crucial for promoting respect for human rights. 

International Federation for Human Rights Leagues welcomed that judicial procedures for murder and torture had been initiated as a response to the events on 30 September 2013.  The Federation recommended carrying out investigations in the field and strengthening victim participation, noting that no process had been initiated against alleged perpetrators.  International Catholic Child Bureau welcomed the report and said that despite efforts made, they remained concerned at the impact of the crises on children rights and had implemented a number of measures in Timbuktu, Gao and Bamako, among others.  Emergency humanitarian assistance was not a long term solution, and a number of reforms were necessary in order to ensure children’s well-being and their development in society.

Concluding Remarks by the Independent Expert on the Human Rights Situation in Mali

SULIMAN BALDO, Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Mali, said the crisis in Mali was multidimensional, and that priority should be given to organizing dialogues between all communities in the country at all levels.  The Sahel regional dimension had to be taken into consideration.  The presence of armed groups in Mali was a threat to all countries in the sub-region, and also concerned the European Union.  There was therefore a real interest for the international community to strengthen efforts in favour of peace in the region.  Refugees and displaced persons still faced obstacles to their return, including security risks in the north of Mali and the lack of public services there.  In the absence of State authority in the north, armed groups had indeed begun to return. 

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of  human rights in the Central African Republic (Only available in French: A/HRC/25/43).        

Presentation by the Independent Expert on the Human Rights Situation in the Central African Republic

MARIE-THERESE KEITA BOCOUM, Independent Expert on the human rights situation in the Central African Republic, in an oral update said that during a 10 day mission to the Central African Republic, she had spoken with the highest transitional authorities and had visited Bangui central prison.  The mission had been an opportunity to tell the various stakeholders about the mandate.  She had obtained witness statements from victims and photographs taken that showed grave human right violations against defenceless civilians.  Most rights were violated in the Central African Republic.  Economic and social rights were flouted.  Also noted were attacks on ambulances and difficult access to healthcare.  The low capacity of the State to tackle violations and protect citizens in the capital and elsewhere was also noted.  The regional impact of the crisis in the country was of importance.  The security sector needed reform.  The State’s weakness was substantial everywhere, there were no security forces and few judges, so it was almost impossible to combat impunity.  It was important for perpetrators to be arrested and brought to justice.

The crisis was a multidimensional one and there were intercommunity and interfaith aspects.  No violations could be tolerated and nothing would go unpunished by the international community.  The transitional authorities should do their utmost to restore peace and security for all.  A mapping of local initiatives to protect communities had to be carried out.  The armed groups had to put an immediate end to acts of violence and human rights and international humanitarian law violations.  The international community needed to do its utmost to deploy a peacekeeping mission.  To avoid chaos, there could no longer simply be patchwork or cosmetic solutions.  The transitional Government had less than a year to prepare for elections and improve the human rights situation.  Without real assistance to ensure the State could operate, it seemed impossible to achieve this aim.  

Statement by the Concerned Country

Central African Republic, speaking as the concerned country, noted that the Independent Expert had raised the same concerns as the High Commissioner for Human Rights after her visit to Bangui in March 2014, and said that a Marshall Plan was needed to save the country from chaos.  Despite the calm in the capital, the situation was still of concern; the Central African Republic existed only on paper and impunity prevailed.  Transitional authorities needed resources to establish the rule of law and fight impunity.  In order to ensure transparent elections, a holistic response was needed and it was needed now.  The Central African Republic was not holding its hands out as a beggar; it was the duty of all to help because the country’s geopolitical position meant that if nothing was done, a profound regional crisis would ensue.

Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on the Human Rights Situation in the Central African Republic

European Union was very concerned at the worsening of the humanitarian and human rights situations in the Central African Republic, including extrajudicial executions perpetrated in the absence of the State and in total impunity.  The European Union was also deeply concerned about the particular vulnerability of children, many of whom had been enrolled in armed groups.   Switzerland was deeply concerned about human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions perpetrated with total impunity, and asked what could be done to revitalize the justice system and restore security and accountability in the Central African Republic.  Czech Republic welcomed the Human Rights Council’s reaction to the crisis in the Central African Republic.  The Czech Republic remained deeply concerned about the human rights situation in the country, and about the particular vulnerability of children, and stressed the importance of justice system reform to ensure that perpetrators were held accountable. 

Norway was deeply concerned about the situation in the Central African Republic, and underlined the need for justice reform.  It was essential that those responsible for gross human rights violations were brought to justice in order to make reconciliation efforts succeed.  Norway was concerned about recent reports of attacks against humanitarian workers.  Special efforts had to be made to protect the most vulnerable populations.   Togo was gravely concerned at the dangerous situation in the country and the lack of political prospects.  Togo condemned abuses committed by armed groups, and expressed concerns at the situation of civilians who had to flee their homes.  Togo called for a more robust response by the international community and donors to the situation in the Central African Republic.  

Lithuania was deeply concerned about the human rights situation in the Central African Republic, which remained terrifying.  Steps had to be taken promptly to tackle violence and impunity.  Lithuania welcomed the support of the International Criminal Court as well as the efforts by France and the African Union in preventing the further deterioration of the situation, although more had to be done by the international community. 

France condemned all of the human rights violations committed in the Central African Republic.  France was concerned about the sexual violence, enforced disappearances, and extra judicial killings, among others.  The situation of women and children was of particular gravity and concern.  Order and justice had to be established and the whole international community had to support those efforts.  Organization for Islamic Cooperation said it was necessary to renew the commitment to help the new authorities to re-establish stability and peaceful co-existence between the different ethnic and religious communities.  All Member States, financial institutions and non-governmental organizations were asked to provide humanitarian assistance to neighbouring countries, which continued to receive large influxes of refugees.  Spain said it continued to contribute to strengthening security and peace making in the Central African Republic, including by the decision to effectively contribute to the European Union mission to the country.  Spain was very concerned about the serious human rights violations and the interreligious and interethnic character of the violence.  It was essential to promote reconciliation.

Djibouti was alarmed at the extent of the human rights violations that had been mentioned.  Intercommunity inclusive dialogue was a key step in the return of stability and successful future elections, and all efforts to bring this about were welcomed.  The international community was urged to step up its support for the Government of the country to bring peace and stability to the Central African Republic.  Ireland remained deeply concerned by the appalling levels of violence in the Central African Republic.  It condemned the large scale human rights violations, in particular those perpetrated against children.  All parties were called upon to refrain from the deplorable practice of recruiting and using children in armed groups, and to ensure safe and unhindered access to humanitarian and human rights organizations. Belgium was concerned at the unprecedented crisis affecting the Central African Republic.  It expressed serious concern at the recruitment of child soldiers and invited all parties to the conflict to ensure that no child was ever again recruited by armed groups.  There was also grave concern about the generalized impunity in the country.  The opening of preliminary investigations by the International Criminal Court was welcomed.

Chad reiterated the importance of the speedy implementation of the Independent Expert’s recommendations and said that technical assistance was essential to enable the country to function, end impunity and bring the militias to justice.  Senegal expressed regret for the situation that prevailed in the Central African Republic despite the attempts to reconciliation made by the authorities, and urged the international community to continue proactively to help the Central African Republic so that intercommunity and religious violence ceased.  The situation in the country had progressed far beyond the capabilities of the State, said Maldives, and noted the fear and impunity which made the rule of law, accountability and justice mechanisms non-existent.  Community reconciliation was urgently needed, the link between communities must be recreated, and a strategy to fight impunity must be put in place. 

Algeria was very concerned about the worsening security situation in the country and the weakness of state institutions, which had led to frequent violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and to the state of impunity.  Gabon welcomed the progress made in the gradual return to the constitutional order as a result of the efforts of the transitional authorities and called on the international community to support their efforts to overcome the numerous challenges related to security, reconstruction and the protection of human rights.  United States was deeply concerned about horrific reports of human rights abuses and asked about the specific steps that the transitional Government could take to stop targeted killings and assassinations, increasing incidents of sexual and gender-based violence, and the dissemination of sectarian messages that encouraged violence and the destruction of property.

Australia remained concerned by the ongoing violence against civilians, including women and children, the lack of State authority and basic security through the country, and the worsening humanitarian crisis.  There was an urgent need to combat impunity for serious international crimes and other human rights violations, restore law and order, and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.  Morocco welcomed the cooperation of the authorities during the Independent Expert’s visit.  The Independent Expert’s observations made on the underlying causes of the crisis and on how to improve the human rights situation were noted, including that there should be a stakeholders’ conference to address the impact of the crisis in the region.  The international community’s response had been slow.  Slovakia said that despite the efforts of the international community the human rights situation in the country raised serious concern.  Ensuring security, access to justice and fighting impunity were preconditions to restore peace and prevent the deterioration of gross human rights violations.  The parallel task was the rebuilding of State authorities in the country.

China said that the security situation was still very acute and expressed concern about the Central African Republic.  It condemned any violence against the civilian population in the country and supported the continued support and attention of the Council to this situation.  Peace, stability and security were fundamental for the promotion and protection of human rights and China would support the Central African Republic in this regard.  Mexico voiced concern at witnessing the impact of the conflict on the human rights situation in the field.  Mexico agreed with the recommendation in the report on the need to establish a roadmap to ensure full consolidation of the rule of law in the Central African Republic and to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights.  Sudan had followed with concern the escalation of the violence in the country.  It reiterated solidarity with the brotherly people and the Government of the Central African Republic.  Sudan believed in the importance of national reconciliation.  The considerable support of the international community was needed to address the serious challenges faced by the country.

Egypt called on all parties to heed the call for wisdom and to exercise restraint in order to avoid further loss of lives and said that the only answer to the crisis lay in the implementation of the relevant resolutions and decisions.  Femmes Afrique Solidarité welcomed the establishment of the Commission to investigate human rights violations in the country and called for peacekeepers to ensure stability in the country.  World Evangelical Alliance shared the High Commissioner’s regret about the slowness of the response of the international community and stressed that the conflict in the Central African Republic was first and foremost political and not religious in nature. 

Caritas Internationalis said in a joint statement that civilians were the victims of the violence in the Central African Republic and agreed with the Independent Expert that this was a multi-dimensional crisis and not religious one and encouraged efforts to address its root causes in order to find durable solutions; the real combat was the one for development, eradication of poverty and return of human dignity.  CIVICUS-World Alliance for Citizen Participation was very concerned about the continuation of violence and the degeneration of the conflict into genocide, and demanded the immediate halt to violence and the deployment of more troops to reduce violence.  Save the Children International said that at least half of the population needed emergency assistance, including one million children who were the group most affected by the crisis; the protection crisis was unfolding against a backdrop of very limited State capacity and decades of neglect by the international community.

Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development remained deeply concerned by the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the country.  Each day, more and more killings, looting and atrocities took place and the number of refugees and internally displaced persons was increasing.  The international community was called upon to provide urgent financial and humanitarian support.  Human Rights Watch said that civilians were in serious need for protection and assistance in the Central African Republic and that there was an urgent need to put an end to impunity for atrocities being committed on all sides.  Peacekeeping operations had not been able to stop the cycle of violence.  International Federation for Human Rights Leagues said that countering impunity was an absolute priority.  The Seleka had been responsible for grave violations of human rights including abductions, summary executions, rape and recruitment of child soldiers, but the Anti-Balaka, which had been reactivated to fight the Seleka, had also been shown to be very violent. 

Concluding Remarks by the Independent Expert on the Human Rights Situation in the Central African Republic

MARIE-THERESE KEITA BOCOUM, Independent Expert on the human rights situation in the Central African Republic, in her closing remarks said that the Government of the Central African Republic was making efforts to fight impunity, particularly in the area of the justice system.  The will was there, but what also must be in place was the return and safety of judges, adequate prisons and strengthened police force and peacekeeping force.  Technical assistance must be provided to all of the justice chain, from detention to trial and serving sentence.  But first, security in the country must be restored.  The efforts to reconciliation must be inclusive and Muslims in particular must be included from the start.  The Ministry had a plan of action to this regard, which required support, but all efforts at reconciliation must start at the community level.  Further, there was an urgent need to address the issue of children involved in conflict, to reopen schools and to provide psychosocial support.  It was impossible to speak of disarmament without screening people for human rights violations, and the perpetrators must not be included in reintegration process.  With regard to the awareness raising of the local leaders, there was a need to work on reconciliation, disarmament and non-recruitment of children into armed groups.  Community leaders needed the support of the State and international community in this regard. 

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the OHCHR on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka* (A/HRC/25/23)

* See also (A/HRC/25/G/9) - Comments received from the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka on the draft report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka (A/HRC/25/23)

The Council has before it a letter dated 27 February 2014 from the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office at Geneva and other international organizations in Switzerland addressed to the President of the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/25/G/10).

Presentation by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Sri Lanka

NAVI PILLAY, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the report examined the progress made by the Government of Sri Lanka in the implementation of the recommendations of its Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, as well as those formulated by the High Commissioner in her report endorsed by the Human Rights Council in March 2013.  Ms. Pillay noted with regret that not much progress had been made in critical areas, particularly in ensuring independent and credible investigations into past violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.  The High Commissioner welcomed the visit to the country by the Special Rapporteur on internally displaced persons and encouraged the country to extend invitations to other mandate-holders.  The continued harassment of human rights defenders in Sri Lanka was another issue of concern.  The High Commissioner stressed that, almost five years since the end of the conflict, it was important for the Human Rights Council to recall the magnitude and gravity of the human rights violations allegedly committed by the Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which had left thousands of civilians killed, injured or missing. 

The failure to address the grief and trauma among victims and survivors undermined confidence in the State and reconciliation.  Ms. Pillay noted that none of the mechanisms established by the Government to investigate the violations inspired confidence among the victims and said that new evidence of human rights violations continued to emerge and witnesses were willing to come forward to testify before international mechanisms in which they had confidence and which could guarantee their protection.  This showed that an international inquiry was not only warranted but also possible, and could play a positive role in eliciting new information and establishing truth where domestic inquiry mechanisms failed.  The Council should establish an independent international inquiry mechanism to further investigate the alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law and monitor the domestic process.  This was essential to advance the right to truth for all Sri Lankans and create further opportunities for justice, accountability and redress.  The report also provided an overview on recent human rights developments in the country, including attacks on religious minorities and human rights defenders, and on freedom of opinion and expression.

Statement by the Concerned Country

Sri Lanka, speaking as the concerned country, said that the recommendations by the High Commissioner to establish an international inquiry mechanism to further investigate alleged violations exceeded the mandate.  Sri Lanka reiterated its categorical rejection of the conclusions and recommendations made in the High Commissioner’s report which reflected bias and unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign State.  Over 30 instances of factual errors contained in the High Commissioner’s draft report had been corrected.  Sri Lanka informed the Council about the progress made in the reconciliation process, including initiating action to prepare legislation on witness and victim protection and extending the duration of the mandate of the Commission to investigate cases of alleged disappearances.  Sri Lanka remained vigilant in the face of credible evidence on the resurgence of terrorist activities by the LTTE.  Sri Lanka was concerned that some sections of the international community continued to unfairly characterise Government efforts in this regard as being of little significance or distinct from reconciliation.  There were also attempts to portray Sri Lanka as a country in which human rights violations were ongoing; the so-called ongoing issues, if any, were only sporadic and far from being perpetuating in nature and made Sri Lanka not different from any other country, let alone one emerging from a protracted conflict.

Discussion on Sri Lanka

Greece, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that despite some positive elements and the invitation of the High Commissioner, the report assessed that only limited progress had been made in addressing the broader issues of reconciliation in Sri Lanka.  The report also addressed a number of issues, including accountability, problems with judicial institutions, and a decreasing space for human rights defenders and the media.  Montenegro said that much more remained to be done to promote reconciliation, justice and accountability for the people of Sri Lanka.  Independent and credible investigations into previous violations of human rights and humanitarian law were needed.  Attacks against journalists and media outlets, harassment of journalists and attacks against religious minorities were of concern.  An independent and international inquiry would be beneficial in promoting truth and reconciliation.  United States said it was ready to assist the people of Sri Lanka on these efforts and was concerned about attacks against religious minorities and places of worship, as well as harassment against human right defenders.  What technical assistance would the Office of the High Commissioner be able to provide if the Sri Lankan Government so requested? 

France said that the report underlined that despite positive efforts towards reconstruction and displaced persons, efforts to promote reconciliation and to counter impunity had been insufficient.  France reiterated concerns regarding frequent attacks on members of religious minorities, human right defenders and journalists.  Inquiries into allegations of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law should be held, and France urged delegations to support the resolution in this regard.   Ireland said that the report recognised the achievements made by Sri Lanka and welcomed the progress made.  The Government investigation into allegations lacked the required credibility and an international commission of inquiry could contribute to this end.  Morocco was concerned about questions of international humanitarian law, land reform, and victims, and encouraged Sri Lanka to pursue its dialogue with the High Commissioner and to consider offers for technical assistance.  Sri Lanka had sought to restore civil administration and provincial elections had taken place.  It was important to bring together the country through reconciliation and Morocco called upon Sri Lanka to implement a zero tolerance policy and to ensure that perpetrators were held accountable.  Algeria said that efforts at reconciliation had put an end to a destructive conflict.  There had been improvements and efforts had been made to ensure the rights of religious and ethnic minorities, but Algeria urged Sri Lanka to take additional measures.  Dialogue and reparations should not be forgotten.

United Kingdom said that this Council should deal with a range of situations in the discharge of its duty to protect and promote human rights.  The violence and security situation in Sri Lanka were worsening, there was an upsurge in attacks on religious minorities, and there were attacks on human rights defenders and on women and girls.  The one gap that really needed addressing was the need for a credible investigation into very serious allegations into war crimes and grave human rights violations committed by both sides to the conflict.  Cuba said that the report of the High Commissioner was another example of the politicization of the Human Rights Council and the application of double standards, and did not acknowledge the progress made by Sri Lanka in the reconciliation process.  Pakistan believed that country-specific initiatives were confrontational and counter-productive and that the High Commissioner’s recommendation to establish an international inquiry mechanism exceeded her mandate; the international community must act as a facilitator for peace and stability and be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem. 

Namibia recognized the efforts by Sri Lanka, emphasized the need for openness and transparency in the implementation of the recommendations of its Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, and urged the international community to support Sri Lanka in its efforts.  Russia said there were no objective reasons for the Council to address the situation in Sri Lanka, which had achieved significant success in the national reconciliation process and in upholding the rights of its population; the recent successful elections in the north of the country were made possible only because terrorism had been defeated.  China commended the efforts of Sri Lanka in the area of national reconciliation and in strengthening cooperation with the human rights mechanisms, and regretted that the High Commissioner’s report failed to objectively present the progress made by the country.  The people of Sri Lanka had enough wisdom and capacity to deal with their own internal affairs, and needed time and space to implement their own reconciliation process.

Sierra Leon said that its experience highlighted the importance of addressing accountability and reconciliation was essential for the country to rebuild itself.  In the absence of a domestic credible investigation and the apparent lack of political will by the Government, an international mechanism was needed.  Austria welcomed Sri Lanka’s achievements in reconstruction and addressing the situation of internally displaced persons.  Existing mechanisms addressing allegations of human rights violations had produced limited results and Austria called on Sri Lanka to engage with the international community.  In the absence of an international process, the international community would have to take the necessary steps to ensure a long-lasting peace.  Venezuela said that the resolution that had led to the report had been imposed by the United States and resulted from politicisation.  Sri Lanka was taking measures towards the implementation of the recommendations emanating from the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission across many areas but there had been no appreciation of the Government’s efforts.  Venezuela rejected efforts to interfere with domestic processes and condemned these practices which were interventionist, selective and which were evidence of double standards. 

Japan commended the cooperation between Sri Lanka and human rights mechanisms but recognised that a number of outstanding issues remained.  Japan hoped that the international community would continue to support efforts towards national reconciliation and the improvement of the human rights situation.  Viet Nam said that Sri Lanka had engaged seriously with United Nations mechanisms and that its collaboration with the Office of the High Commissioner was commendable.  The losses in the aftermath of conflict could not be resolved in a short time.  Much more needed to be done and constructive dialogue and cooperation was the best approach for the Council to contribute to Sri Lanka’s efforts.  Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was dismayed at the lack of credible investigations and regretted that Sri Lanka had not made progress in the accountability for human rights violations and justice for victims.  It was concerned about continuing reports of sexual and gender based violence.  It urged Sri Lanka to protect the rights of religious minorities and to implement the recommendations issued by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.  Germany was concerned about the lack of accountability and mounting problems in assuring human rights in the country, including attacks against civil society and reprisals against human rights defenders.  Germany appealed to Sri Lanka to ensure that members of civil society could engage without fearing undue Government pressure.

Egypt noted with appreciation the genuine commitment of Sri Lanka to the national reconciliation process and said that the Council and the international community must encourage States to promote and protect human rights and that all efforts must have the consent of the concerned country.  Norway was concerned about the continuing reports of violations of human rights in Sri Lanka, including intimidation and arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders, members of civil society, journalists and lawyers, and about the increase in attacks against religious minorities.  Sri Lanka was yet to honour its 2009 pledge to the Human Rights Council to conduct a credible and independent investigation into the allegations of serious human rights violations.

Switzerland agreed that the Government of Sri Lanka had not undertaken an impartial and transparent investigation into past crimes.  It was crucial that the new council of the province of the north was able to fulfil its mandate properly.  Switzerland was concerned about harassment and arbitrary detention of human rights defenders and attacks against religious minorities.  Sudan commended Sri Lanka’s positive engagement with the United Nations and believed that the establishment of an international inquiry mechanism went beyond the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner.  The highest degree of objectivity had to be maintained, and politicization avoided.  Thailand recognized the constructive cooperation of Sri Lanka with United Nations mechanisms, and welcomed the establishment of mechanisms to ensure accountability for cases of enforced disappearances.  Much remained to be done regarding national reconciliation.  The international community had to continue supporting Sri Lanka. 

Belgium acknowledged that reconciliation processes were complex, but this should not be used as an excuse; justice to victims must be ensured.  Belgium deeply regretted that nothing had been done to ensure justice to victims, and was concerned about harassment of human rights defenders.  Belgium supported the establishment of a credible and independent international investigation mechanism.  Canada deeply regretted that Sri Lanka did not even recognize the need for an independent investigation on previous crimes, and supported the establishment of a national inquiry mechanism.  Canada was deeply concerned about the degradation of the rule of law, the judiciary and attacks and harassment against human rights defenders.  Belarus was concerned about attempts to use the Council to impose politicized views, and regretted that the report before the Council today was unbalanced and biased, and went beyond the mandate of the High Commissioner.  Belarus welcomed that Sri Lanka was engaging constructively with United Nations human rights mechanisms. 

South Sudan commended Sri Lanka’s engagement with the Council and human rights mechanisms, and appreciated measures to reduce military forces and remove checkpoints, as well as efforts to rehabilitate and reintegrate former combatants.  South Sudan welcomed the appointment of a national commission of inquiry to investigate disappearances, and encouraged constructive dialogue and cooperation with Sri Lanka.  Bangladesh welcomed the positive steps taken towards reconstruction and welcomed Sri Lanka’s willingness to engage constructively with the Council and its mechanisms.  Due regard and recognition of the significant progress, including the operationalization of the national action plan, should be given by the Council.  Sri Lanka needed time, space, and cooperation to implement its process of reconciliation.  While recognising that much needed to be done, any actions taken by the Council should count with the consent of the concerned country.  Myanmar was pleased to see the continued engagement and cooperation of Sri Lanka with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as the standing invitation issued by Sri Lanka to a number of mandate holders.  The task of reconstruction and reconciliation was not an easy task.  Constructive engagement and genuine dialogue would prove a better way to help States meet challenges. 

Uzbekistan said that it was important to recognise the efforts made by Sri Lanka towards national reconciliation, as well as measures taken to implement the recommendations.  Uzbekistan also noted the progress achieved concerning demining, and the reintegration and rehabilitation of former combatants, among others.  Sri Lanka should bolster national reconciliation through a constructive approach.  Azerbaijan noted Sri Lanka’s recent measures and believed that all measures should be taken in a climate of mutual understanding and cooperation.  Denmark shared the concerns of the High Commissioner concerning a range of human rights issues, particularly against journalists, human rights defenders and families of victims.  Justice and accountability were key elements towards reconciliation and Denmark noted with concern the fact that national mechanisms had failed to credibly investigate allegations of violations, and therefore echoed the High Commissioner’s call for an international investigation into alleged violations in Sri Lanka.

Iran said that the international community should encourage Sri Lanka in its path to full reconciliation rather than take action via selective approaches which ran counter to the principles of cooperation and genuine dialogue governing the working of the Human Rights Council; such approaches adversely impacted the ongoing reconciliation process.  Zimbabwe said that it was clear that Sri Lanka continued to make progress on its reconciliation process and that the High Commissioner had exceeded her mandate in calling for an international inquiry mechanism to further investigate alleged violations.  Lao People’s Democratic Republic said that the Universal Periodic Review mechanism was the most appropriate forum to discuss human rights issues in countries and urged Sri Lanka to continue its reconciliation process and continue its cooperation with the human rights system. 

Bhutan commended Sri Lanka for making significant progress in its national reconciliation process and recognized that this was not an easy process; Sri Lanka needed time and the international community should recognize its efforts in this regard.  Uganda noted the commendable progress Sri Lanka had made in achieving reconciliation and said that the international community should assess and appreciate this progress, and encouraged Sri Lanka to continue with such efforts rather than to call for an international inquiry.  Special consideration must be given to countries emerging from long-lasting armed conflict.  Bolivia said that all measures to promote human rights must go hand in hand with the consent of the concerned country and deplored the persistence and proliferation of selective actions to which the country concerned had not consented.

Nigeria appreciated Sri Lanka’s continued engagement with the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms, and welcomed the progress made in implementing recommendations of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission.  Nigeria also commended achievements in the areas of demining, resettlement, reconstruction and rehabilitation.  Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative said that five years after the conflict, victims still had not had justice in Sri Lanka due to a lack of political will to uncover the truth and hold perpetrators of serious violations accountable.  This widespread impunity was a factor of other human rights violations, including harassment of human rights defenders.  It called for the establishment of an international investigation mechanism.  Norwegian Refugee Council said that persons forced to flee their homes during the conflict had still not been given a durable resettlement solution in Sri Lanka.  The military occupation of land was an obstacle to a durable solution for displaced persons. 

International Commission of Jurists supported the establishment of an international investigation mechanism, as it was impossible to rely on national justice mechanisms.  Judges giving rulings that were unpleasant for the Government faced harsh reprisals.  Five years after the conflict, no one had been held accountable.  Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development regretted the lack of accountability for past crimes, the lack of investigation into cases of enforced disappearances, and the lack of independence of the judiciary.  It called for the establishment of an international investigation mechanism.  It expressed further concerns at reprisals and harassment of political dissent and human rights defenders in Sri Lanka.  Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada fully supported the establishment of an international investigation mechanism, as Sri Lanka had clearly failed to ensure accountability for past crimes.  The north of the country was under military occupation, which increased the risks of sexual violence.  The Terrorism Act was misused to arbitrarily detain and silent human rights activists. 

Pasumai Thaayagam Foundation welcomed that the report called for the establishment of an independent, international inquiry mechanism, which was of utmost importance to establish the truth regarding serious past and ongoing violations.  The Council had an important obligation to heed the call of the High Commissioner for an independent and credible international investigation into past and ongoing violations in Sri Lanka.  World Barua Organization said that there was no shortcut for reconciliation and there was no simple prescription for healing the wounds of a society marred by years of suffering and violence.  There were attempts by some countries to disrupt this process, being influenced by various elements who were determined to discredit Sri Lanka and the organization regretted that in this Council, where neutrality and impartiality should be upheld, one country was singled out in the name of human rights.  International Buddhist Relief Organization said that the people of Sri Lanka had suffered over three decades through terrorism, due to the activities of the LTTE, which had been described as the most ruthless and efficient terrorist organization.  In 1985 the LTTE had massacred 146 Sinhalese civilians and Buddhist monks and neither the United States nor the United Kingdom had paid much attention.  Members of this organization now lived as refugees abroad and constituted the most vociferous and lobbying groups within the Tamil Diaspora. 

International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism said that the report drew particular attention to the issue of detainees and recommended the repeal of the draconian terrorism act which had led to abuses.  Over the last two weeks, the military had extended a security blanket over the entire northern provinces, leading to violations and abuses.  The Government of Sri Lanka did not execute the war alone, it had received support from powerful countries inside and outside Asia.  Liberation said that the report missed the underlying ethnic dimensions of the conflict.  It was no coincidence that the vast majority of those killed, disappeared, tortured, or raped were Tamil.  It the international community wished to retain the faith and trust of the Tamil people, if it shared the hope for a peaceful solution, it must act and provide a robust international investigation that was credible, sustainable and addressed the genuine grievances of the Tamil people.  Action contre la faim noted with particular interest the references to the “Muttar case”, where 17 aid workers were assassinated in Sri Lanka, as this constituted one of the most atrocious war crimes ever committed against humanitarian personnel.  After 16 years the internal investigation had become a farce and the organization appealed to the international community to hold the perpetrators of this crime accountable.

World Evangelical Alliance joined the strong protests against the recent detentions and other violations by the Government against its own citizens who promoted human rights.  It was striking that the Government victimized itself as a post-conflict nation while at the same time cracking down on human rights defenders who campaigned for accountability.  Human Rights Watch said it had long documented horrific abuses by the Sri Lankan Government forces and the Tamil Tigers during the conflict.  Instead of launching impartial investigations into these allegations, the Sri Lankan authorities’ standard response had been to ignore or deny any wrong-doing on its part.  France Libertes Fondation Danielle Miterrand said that it had been repeatedly maintained that little could be done now for the dead Tamil victims except do justice to their families.  The time had come to dispel these lies and mandatorily demand the appointment of an independent commission of inquiry.

CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation was deeply concerned about the ongoing intimidation targeting citizens and human rights defenders wishing to communicate with or speak up at this current session of the Council.  The arrests represented a continuing escalation of the Government’s ongoing attempt to silence independent reporting on human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.  United Nations Watch said that today, the Human Rights Council faced a singular opportunity and responsibility.  An international mechanism was needed to investigate the atrocities.  The world needed to know how Sri Lanka had perpetrated widespread shelling, among others.  The world needed to know the truth.  Amnesty International supported the recommendation to establish an inquiry mechanism.  The failure of the Sri Lankan Government to conduct independent and credible investigations made such an inquiry mechanism essential.  It was essential to break the cycle of impunity.  Victims knew the hollow promise of the Government to provide justice. 

International Educational Development said that the genocide of the Tamil people occurred during the conflict and was still ongoing, carried out by the Sri Lankan State.  Any reconciliation project had to include the Tamil nation.  International Educational Development called for a credible international investigation and a judicial process through the International Criminal Court.  International Buddhist Foundation questioned the grounds on which the High Commissioner recommended the establishment of a commission of inquiry, and regretted that this position was biased and had failed to recognize Sri Lanka’s achievements.  It called on the Council to vote against the establishment of an international mechanism on Sri Lanka.  Human Rights Law Centre said that war crimes had been committed both by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and Sri Lankan forces during the conflict and after.  It called on the Council to pass the draft resolution, as the precondition for domestic reconciliation mechanisms to work effectively was not present. 

Collectif des Femmes Africaines du Hainaut welcomed the call from the High Commissioner to establish an international investigation mechanism, and said that the British colonial system caused the engineering of the genocidal process in Sri Lanka against the Tamil population.  It regretted that the international community had failed to acknowledge the genocide against the Tamil nation.  Vivekananda Sevakendra-O-Sishu Uddyan welcomed the call from the High Commissioner to establish an international investigation mechanism, but regretted that the Council’s resolution to be adopted would not give the Office of the High Commissioner a mandate to investigate the ongoing genocide against the Tamil population in Sri Lanka.  Association of World Citizens asked what had happened to young people trained in the north by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who had received cyanide.  How were they being treated?  Sri Lanka had to adopt strategies to adapt health services to the needs of communities and minorities.  The excellent health services that Sri Lanka once knew had been weakened by structural measures aimed at developing the private sector. 


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC14/050E