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Is international pressure failing in Sri Lanka?

Apr 12, 2013

A latest UNHRC resolution called upon the Sri Lankan government to conduct its own independent investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law.

The UN Human Rights Council approved last month a second resolution requesting the Sri Lankan government to do more to address alleged wartime rights violations, but observers question whether such resolutions can create meaningful change.

The latest resolution, sponsored by the USA, is similar to last year’s, calling on the Sri Lankan government to “to fulfill its public commitments, including on the devolution of political authority, which is integral to reconciliation and the full enjoyment of human rights by all members of its population.”

The new resolution calls on Sri Lanka to formally respond to UN “Special Rapporteurs” - investigators working on behalf of the UN - who have pending requests to visit the country to cover such issues as minority rights; freedom of peaceful assembly and association; freedom of opinion and expression; extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and enforced or involuntary disappearances, according to the latest report on Sri Lanka by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

The resolution once again put the onus on the Sri Lankan government to act on allegations. Instead of the international investigation that Pillay called for in her report, the resolution called “upon the Government [of Sri Lanka] to conduct its own independent and credible investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.”

Alan Keenan, Sri Lanka project director at think tank International Crisis Group (ICG), said that the resolution was unlikely to change much. “The latest resolution is unlikely to have any immediate impact in Sri Lanka,” but he added:

“If the [Sri Lankan] government does continue to ignore these international concerns, I expect the pressure will grow, with an increasing chance that in the next year or two the Human Rights Council will authorize an international investigation and that other international bodies will take stronger action.”

The assessment was shared by Rukii Fernando, a member of the Rights Now Collective for Democracy, a Sri Lankan NGO. “Although the resolution falls short of expectations, it's a step in the right direction, in the context that wheels of international justice turn very slowly,” he said.

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SOURCE: IRIN

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