February 22, 2021
Human Rights Council Must Break Circle of Impunity in Sri Lanka
22 Organizations Urge UN Resolution Ensuring Human Rights and Justice in Sri Lanka
(Geneva, Switzerland — February 22, 2021) The UN Human Rights Council must take immediate and concrete action to prevent impunity for past abuses and address the deteriorating human rights situation in Sri Lanka, said a coalition of 22 organizations today. Highlighting recent recommendations of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, an open letter from human rights non-governmental organizations and academic centers and clinics urges the Human Rights Council to enhance monitoring of the situation in Sri Lanka, establish an independent mechanism to collect and preserve evidence of past and ongoing violations, and prioritize support to civil society and victims. The Human Rights Council opens its 46th session today.
Ongoing impunity for serious human rights violations, including allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed over the course of a decades-long war has created a crisis of accountability in Sri Lanka. The toll on civilians, who have suffered serious violations and abuses, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture, and sexual violence, has been enormous with the High Commissioner noting how “the failure to deal with the past continues to have devastating effects on tens of thousands of survivors.” UN bodies have documented Sri Lanka’s persistent failures to protect human rights and a pattern of obstructing investigations, rewarding human rights abusers, and targeting government critics. It is essential that the Human Rights Council pass a resolution with concrete action as a signal to the Government of Sri Lanka that continuing impunity and abuses are not acceptable, and to affirm that the United Nations is committed to securing justice for survivors.
The 22 organizations that signed the letter are: Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM ASIA); Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA); Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA); Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ); International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP); International Commission of Jurists (ICJ); International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH); International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School; International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR); International Service for Human Rights (ISHR); European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR); Franciscans International; Freedom from Torture; Free Press Unlimited; Human Rights Watch (HRW); People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL); REDRESS; Reporters without Borders (RSF); Sri Lanka Campaign; University Network for Human Rights; World Federalist Movement/Institute for Global Policy (WFM/IGP); and World Organization Against Torture (OMCT).
Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic
Center for Justice & Accountability