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UN committee questions government

2014 Aug 19

The UN Human Rights Committee which is scheduled to convene in October, has questioned the Sri Lankan Government on several issues including on the progress made by the Sri Lankan Army’s Court of Inquiry in investigating allegations of civilian casualties during the war.

The 112th session of the Human Rights Committee will be held at the United Nations Office at Geneva from 7 to 31 October with Sri Lanka being discussed on October 7 and 8. The reports to be considered during the 112th session are those of Sri Lanka, Burundi, Haiti, Malta, Montenegro and Israel.

The Government has already submitted its fifth periodic report Human Rights Committee for its October session in accordance with article 40 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, (ICCPR), highlighting developments relevant to the period from 2003 to October 2012.

In its country report the Sri Lankan Government has detailed the progress made in several areas during the period under review, including what the Government says is freedoms enjoyed by all people particularly in the North and East, having been the former theatre of a terrorist conflict.

However the Human Rights Committee has questioned the Government on measures taken to effectively address impunity for human rights violations committed by both State and non-State actors, in particular by ensuring independent and impartial investigations and applying the rule of law and due process in prosecuting perpetrators.

“What measures have been taken to ensure the right of victims of human rights violations to timely, prompt and effective remedies? Does the State party envisage accepting international assistance to resolve outstanding cases of serious human rights violations? How does the State party plan to strengthen the cooperation and coordination between different national and international authorities in investigating allegations of human rights violations during the conflict? Please provide an update on the progress made by the Sri Lankan Army’s Court of Inquiry in investigating allegations of civilian casualties, including the allegations reported upon by a Channel 4 documentary,” the Committee has asked in a report submitted for the October session.

The Committee has also asked for an update on the progress made in implementing the recommendations of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka and on the progress made in implementing the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.

The Human Rights Committee has also asked the Government to respond to allegations that the legal proceedings against former presidential candidate General Sarath Fonseka were politically motivated.

The Committee has also questioned measures taken to eliminate discrimination against ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities, including Muslim and Tamil communities.

“In particular, please indicate the outcome of the State party’s action regarding allegations of increasing pressure and harassment by the authorities against certain religious groups, including attacks on the places of worship of Hindu, Muslim, Evangelical Christian and Jehovah’s Witness communities,” the Human Rights Committee said.

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