Oral update of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka (A/HRC/24/CRP.3/Rev.1)
Human Rights Council
Agenda item 2
Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General
1. On behalf of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, I am pleased to provide this oral update on implementation of Human Rights Council resolution A/HRC/22/L.1/Rev.1 on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka. This draws on input from relevant Special Procedures mandate holders and the High Commissioner’s own observations during her visit to Sri Lanka from 25-31 August 2013. It focusses in particular on the issues highlighted in resolution A/HRC/22/L.1/Rev.1 and the recommendations contained in her previous report to the Council .
2. At the outset, the High Commissioner would like to thank the Government for its invitation and its excellent cooperation during the planning and conduct of her visit, which included field visits in Jaffna, Killinochchi, Mullaitivu and Trincomalee. During the mission, she called on HE President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and held discussions with senior members of the Government, opposition political parties, the judiciary and bar, Human Rights Commission, civil society, United Nations Country Team and diplomatic community. The statement issued by the High Commissioner at the end of her visit is available at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?News ID=13673&LangID=E
3. The High Commissioner observed at first hand the impressive achievements made by the Government, with the help of the international community, in resettlement, reconstruction and rehabilitation in the relatively short period since the armed conflict with the LTTE ended in 2009, including the construction of new roads, bridges, train connections, medical facilities, schools and housing. Services such as electricity and water supplies have been greatly improved; and much of the de-mining process has been completed.
4. The majority of people who were internally displaced at the end of the armed conflict have now returned or been resettled, although thousands of persons displaced before 2008-9 are still awaiting return, and many of the returnees she met are facing difficulties resuming their livelihoods. We are pleased that the Government has invited the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons to further assess these issues . This along with planned work on a Joint Needs Assessment can help define actions for durable solutions for all displaced people.
5. The High Commissioner welcomes, the elections to the Northern Provincial Council which were successfully held on 21 September, which she hopes will usher in an important new stage in the devolution of power, in accordance with the undertaking given by the President to the Secretary-General and endorsed by the Human Rights Council to proceed with the implementation of the 13th Amendment. The High Commissioner recommends the Government work with new Northern Provincial Council to conduct a more comprehensive participation needs assessment to develop new oversight mechanisms for reconstruction and development programs which ensure meaningful participation by representatives of civil society and minorities.
6. The High Commissioner has identified, however, a number of factors impeding normalization, which – if not quickly rectified – may sow the seeds of future discord.