The First Draft of the UN Human Rights Council 25th Session Resolution on Sri Lanka (3rd March)

By TAG, Monday, March 03 2014
A first draft of the Resolution on Sri Lanka has been circulated by the United States, United Kingdom, Montenegro, Mauritius and Macedonia.

While it stops short of calling for an international commission of inquiry or other international mechanism, it seeks minimally to ensure continued consideration of this issue at the twenty eighth session.  This is a deeply disappointing starting position both for Tamil victims/survivors and for INGOs who have campaigned for a International Investigation into Sri Lanka's mass atrocities of 2009 to be established at this 25th session of the Human Rights Council. 

A key passage is at para 8:

"Welcomes the High Commissioner's recommendations and conclusions on the need for an independent and credible international investigation in the absence of a credible national process with tangible results, and requests the Office of the High Commissioner to assess progress toward accountability and reconciliation,, to monitor relevant national processes, and to investigate alleged violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka, with input from relevant special procedures mandate holders as appropriate, and to present an oral update to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-seventh session, and a comprehensive report followed by a discussion on the implementation of the present resolution at its twenty eighth session."
It is worth noting the range of concerns raised and the relatively high profile of sexual violence, torture, disappearances - all themes that TAG has emphasised in our recent research.

"Expressing serious concern at the continuing reports of violations of human rights in Sri Lanka, including sexual and gender based violence, enforced disappearances, extra judicial killings, torture and violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, as well as  intimidation of and reprisals against human rights defenders, members of civil society and journalists, threats  to judicial independence and the rule of law .."
The emphasis on religious persecution is a new element compared with previous resolutions.

"Alarmed at the rapid rise in violence and discrimination on the basis of religion or belief, disappearances, particularly against members of religious minority groups in Sri Lanka, including Hindus, Muslims and Christians.."

It is left unsaid that many of the persecuted religious minorities are also from the Tamil speaking population. This reflects a continuing reluctance by key sponsors to openly recognise the persecution of Tamils by reason of ethnicity, for fear of being perceived to be supporting a two-state solution to Sri Lanka's conflict.

A full version of this first draft was uploaded pnline via Al Jazeera's @marcellehopkins