Geneva vote ’strong message for justice’

March 22nd, 2012 - 10:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Geneva, March 22 (IANS) The Human Rights Council vote asking Colombo to probe rights abuses “is an important first step” to probing violations by both sides in the armed conflict, Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

The US-sponsored resolution passed at the council by a vote of 24 to 15, with eight abstentions. Member countries voting for it included India, the US and Nigeria.

“The Council’s vote demonstrates broad international dissatisfaction with Sri Lanka’s accountability efforts in the three years since the end of the war,” said Juliette De Rivero of Human Rights Watch in Geneva.

“Many countries have recognized that this resolution is an important first step toward serious action to investigate the many abuses by both sides during the conflict.”

The resolution calls upon the Sri Lankan government to fulfill its legal obligations toward justice and accountability, and to expeditiously provide a comprehensive action plan to implement the recommendations of its Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.

It also seeks to address alleged violations of international law, and encourages the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and other UN rights envoys to assist Sri Lanka in implementing these steps.

Human Rights Watch accused the Sri Lankan government of harassing Sri Lankan rights advocates in Geneva and Sri Lanka for supporting the resolution.

“Human rights advocates attending the UN session in Geneva were photographed and their pictures published in national media and blogs, labeled as traitors.

The council resolution is an important advance for accountability in Sri Lanka, Human Rights Watch said.

After the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009, President Mahinda Rajapaksa agreed to a statement with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in which he promised to address violations of humanitarian and human rights law.

But the only significant action was the creation of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission in April 2010.

The commission was seriously flawed, and its report, published in December 2011, largely exonerates the actions of government forces, Human Rights Watch said.

“Human Rights Council members recognized that when it came to accountability, Sri Lanka has been all talk and no action,” De Rivero said.

“It’s crucial that implementation of the resolution be closely monitored to ensure that the victims of Sri Lanka’s long war finally achieve some measure of justice.”

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