Sri Lanka Cannot Evade International Law: UN Resolution First Step Towards Accountability on the Island

March 22nd, 2012

Geneva, Switzerland - The British Tamils Forum (BTF), Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC), and the United States Tamil Political Action Council (USTPAC) welcome resolution A/HRC/19/L.2, adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, today.

“This resolution is a welcome first step towards accountability and peace in Sri Lanka. This is the first substantive UN resolution regarding Sri Lanka since 1987, and it puts the government of Sri Lanka on notice that the international community will no longer passively accept gross violations of human rights and humanitarian law”, stated Vani Selvarajah, spokeswoman for the diaspora organizations. “Though we would have preferred the resolution to establish an International Commission of Inquiry, we see this as an incremental first step towards establishing a proper mechanism towards accountability in Sri Lanka. Through this resolution, Sri Lanka has the opportunity to choose a path towards peace,” concluded Selvarajah.

The resolution simply calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the constructive recommendations of its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), most notably, de-militarization, land dispute resolution mechanisms in the north and east of Sri Lanka, and to fulfill its legal obligations and “initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability, and reconciliation.” It further requires the Government of Sri Lanka to provide a comprehensive action plan outlining the steps it will take to address violations of international law.

Finally, it encourages the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and other mandate holders to provide technical assistance to Sri Lanka and report back to the Human Rights Council in March of 2013.

BTF, CTC, and USTPAC sincerely appreciate the diligent work undertaken by the Government of the United States, and in particular, the persistent efforts of Her Excellency Eileen Donahoe, the US Ambassador to the UN Mission in Geneva, her staff at the mission for leading this initiative and the 40 countries who co-sponsored the resolution.

We sincerely appreciate the countries that co-sponsored and supported this resolution. We are thankful to the many Non-Governmental Organizations that have worked on the issue of human rights in Sri Lanka for many years. There are many human rights defenders from within Sri Lanka who have made representations in Geneva, and have undertaken brave, and often times, life-threatening work in the name of human rights and peace. We have been humbled and fortunate to have relied on their expertise, and are inspired to work harder towards a just peace in Sri Lanka. We are also grateful to the British Parliamentarians from across party lines who gave their valuable time to attend Council sessions and encourage delegates to support this resolution.

The British Tamils Forum is a grassroots organization of Tamils in the United Kingdom. The Canadian Tamil Congress is a grassroots advocacy organization based in Canada since 2000. The United States Tamil Political Action Council is a grassroots advocacy organization committed to working for a sustainable political solution in Sri Lanka.

For further information, please contact:

Geneva - Vani Selvarajah 41 77 910 9790
United Kingdom - Shan Sutha, Spokesperson, BTF, 44 79 27 02 3912
Canada - David Poopalapillai, Spokesperson, CTC, 905 791 7034
United States – Dr. Elias Jeyarajah, Spokesperson, USTPAC, 919 247 4072

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