Sri Lanka claims to progress on rights record refuted by UN (Video)

In his speech at the state Independence Day military parade the Sri Lanka president emphasised receiving international praise for commitment to reconciliation; but the UN has rapped the government for not delivering in several areas including accountability.

“We receive accolades from locally and internationally for our commitment and determination to establish national reconciliation and peace in the country,” said President Maithripala Sirisena while the UN human rights chief had refuted the Sri Lankan prime minister who claimed that the country’s human rights record received praise when the two had a high-level meeting in Davos.

In a statement from Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has expressed concern at the “slow progress” particularly in accountability on alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity by state security forces.

Following the meeting Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe announced that UN High Commissioner expressed “his satisfaction towards the positive steps taken by Sri Lanka to improve the condition of its human rights”.

The meeting had been “amicable and constructive,” said the high commissioners statement.


Tamils protest in Jaffna and Mullaithivu as workers take to streets in Colombo - February 04, 2017

Range of HR issues

Although critical of the government’s performance in diplomatic language, High commissioner Zeid had indeed praised a recent report on delivering justice to war victims handed over to the government following island wide consultations.

“We covered a range of human rights issues,” Zeid said, noting that he had expressed appreciation for the consultation undertaken by the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms (CTF) and the thoroughness of its report.

“At the same time, I expressed my concern at the slow progress in a number of areas, especially those relating to accountability, and informed the Prime Minister that this and other issues of concern will be reflected in the report I will be presenting to the Human Rights Council in March,” the High Commissioner said.

The  CTF report that recommends the inclusion of foreign judges in a future transitional justice mechanism, has been already condemned by the country’s justice minister and the head of the Office for National Unity & Reconciliation, Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge.

'Black Independence Day'

While the government celebrated the 69th year of independence with an 8000-strong parade and a display of military hardware, Tamils in the north and thousands of workers in the capital marked it as a “Black Day”.

Tamils were protesting ongoing militarisation and land grab as well as the government’s failure to reveal the whereabouts of tens of thousands of disappeared and releasing hundreds of political prisoners.

Workers of the country’s largest telecommunication provider, Sri Lanka Telecom were urging the government to secure their employment and to investigate the abduction of a trade union leader.



Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  • JDS is the Sri Lankan partner organization of international media rights group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The launching of this website was made possible by the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), of which Reporters Without Borders is a beneficiary.