An Urgent Appeal to the United Nations Human Rights Council to Reject the Draft Resolution against Sri Lanka
Published: 20 Mar 2014
PRESS RELEASE: We, concerned individuals and organizations around the world, urge the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to reject the proposed draft Resolution (HRC-25) directed against Sri Lanka. The draft resolution is in contravention of the basic principles of the UNHRC as enunciated in its ‘Charter,’ including the principles of “universality, impartiality, objectivity, non-selectivity and constructive international dialogue,” along with the norms of fair play and justice.
The draft Resolution raises concerns with respect to two sets of issues: first, a purported increase in human rights violations in the country; and second, a lack of progress with regard to accountability, i.e. a lack of credible investigations into violations of humanitarian rights laws allegedly committed during the last stages of the war.
With regard to the issue of human rights violations, the UNHRC has an established mechanism to take up such matters – namely the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and therefore there is no justification for a country- specific resolution.
With respect to the issue of accountability, the High Commissioner’s report of 24 February 2014 (A/HRC/25/23)that is intended to be the basis of any Resolution adopted in the present sessions, cites two sources of allegations regarding the issue of alleged violations of humanitarian law: The Secretary General’s Panel of Experts (POE) Report of March 2011, and the Channel 4 videos.
The POE and Channel 4 videos have not at any stage been tabled officially before the Council and Sri Lanka has had no opportunity to respond to them before the Council. Thus, the credibility of these two sources has never been tested. This is a serious violation of procedural fairness.
Furthermore, with respect to the POE, there are allegations that sample letters generated by Tamil Diaspora elements and sent online to the Panel comprise a part of the evidence on which the Panel reached its conclusions with regard to alleged violations of humanitarian law; that satellite photos used by the Panel were manipulated; and that data on humanitarian aid sent to the conflict zone by the Government of Sri Lanka was deliberatelyunder-reported.
With respect to the Channel 4 videos, the latest allegations against them involve claims that witnesses used in the videos are “fully paid-up members of the Tamil Tigers.” These allegations are of so serious a nature that they deserve to be investigated.
The draft Resolution (HRC-25)in its recommendations requests the High Commissioner, inter alia “to investigate alleged violations of abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka.” It should be noted that the UNHRC can avail itself of the UPR mechanism to address these concerns, because the UPR mechanism is specifically designed to ensure compliance with the principles of the UNHRC’s ‘Charter.’ Assigning an investigative mandate to the High Commissioner sets a dangerous precedent.
The draft Resolution calls for the“Office of the High Commissioner to lead a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of Human Rights and related crimes.....”.
The UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251 that set up the Human Rights Council does not mandate the Office of the High Commissioner to engage in any investigation, leave alone “lead” an investigation into HR violations.
Assigning such a mandate would be in violation of the UN Charter and would furthermore set a dangerous precedent. The Resolution should be rejected for these reasons.
We represent organizations and individuals in many countries. Standing in solidarity with the great majority of people in Sri Lanka and others who are of view that the UNHRC in pursuing country-specific resolutions against Sri Lanka is exceeding its mandate and thereby facilitating an erosion of international law, we urge the United Nations to advise the Human Rights Council to reject the draft Resolution (HRC-25).
WASP - World Alliance for Peace in Sri Lanka