The Sri Lanka Campaign was founded nearly five years ago with four key objectives. The first was the establishment of an independent international investigation. Today that objective was achieved.
The Human Rights Council has voted for the High Commissioner for Human Rights:
To undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka during the period covered by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, and to establish the facts and circumstances of such alleged violations and of the crimes perpetrated with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring accountability, with assistance from relevant experts and special procedures mandate holders.
No resolution is going to do 100% of the things we want, but the High Commissioner for Human Rights now has a clear mandate for a robust and thorough investigation into what took place, and is taking place, in Sri Lanka.
It is important that she, and her successor, use it and use it well, and that is why our work here isn't done, and won't be done until there is justice in Sri Lanka, and the peace that that will bring.
Our work also isn't done because we are very worried about what the next few weeks will bring, as the Sri Lankan Government no longer feels any need to hold back in its attempt to crush dissent. Campaigner for the Disappeared Balendran Jeyakumari, and at least 10 others, remain in detention without access to their lawyers, and without any evidence having been produced. Meanwhile freed activists Ruki Fernando and Fr Praveen Mahesan remain subjected to a gagging order and continued judicial harassment.
Here are three things you can do:
- Support our campaign. Unfortunately our work is not free, and we rely on the donations of people like you to keep going.
- Join our effort to free Balendran Jeyakumari and others held without evidence.
- Support the Human Rights Observatory's attempt to have the gag order on Ruki Fernando and Father Praveen Mahesan lifted.
The next few weeks could be tough, but at least tonight we are one step closer to ending Sri Lanka's culture of impunity, and stopping the suffering that brings.
Here are the full details:
The vote passed by 23 votes to 12 with 12 abstaining.
(Procedural votes also took place: a delaying motion was defeated by 16 votes to 25, and a vote on para 10 was defeated by 14 votes to 23)
The full list of how each nation voted
is as follows:
On the resolution itself
Argentina, Austria, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cote D’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Montenegro, Peru, Rep. of Korea, Romania, Sierra Leone, Macedonia, UK, USA.
Algeria, China, Congo, Cuba, Kenya, Maldives, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Venezuela,Vietnam.
Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Morocco, Namibia, Philippines, South Africa.
On the decision to retain Paragraph 10:
(changed votes from vote above underlined)
Argentina, Austria, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cote
D’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy,
Mexico, Montenegro, Peru, Rep. of Korea, Romania, Sierra Leone,
Macedonia, UK, USA.
Algeria, China, Congo, Cuba, India, Indonesia,
Kenya, Maldives, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Venezuela,Vietnam.
Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Gabon, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Morocco, Namibia, Philippines, South Africa.
On the decision to defer the vote:
(changed votes from vote above underlined)
Algeria, China, Congo, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Maldives, Morocco, Namibia
, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa,
UAE, Venezuela, Vietnam
Argentina, Austria, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan,
Mexico, Montenegro, Peru, Philippines,
Republic of Korea, Romania, Sierra Leone, Macedonia, UK, USA.
Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kazakhstan, Kuwait
The resolution was brought by the following countries:
(those in bold are HRC members and so voted yes as well as cosponsoring the resolution
Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia,
Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy,
Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Montenegro,
Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania
, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sierra Leone,
Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America.
Plus four late additions: Czech Republic,
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Malta, Slovenia
Here's the full text of the resolution
Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka
The Human Rights Council,
the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Human Rights and other relevant instruments,
Bearing in mind
General Assembly resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006,
Human Rights Council resolutions 5/1, on institution-building of the Council, and 5/2, on the Code of Conduct for Special Procedures Mandate Holders, of 18 June 2007,
Human Rights Council resolutions 19/2 of 22 March 2012 and 22/1 of 21 March 2013 on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka,
its commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka,
that it is the responsibility of each State to ensure the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms of its entire population,
that States must ensure that any measure taken to combat terrorism complies with their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights law, international refugee law and international humanitarian law, as applicable,
that all Sri Lankans are entitled to the full enjoyment of their human rights regardless of religion, belief or ethnicity, in a peaceful and unified land,
Welcoming and acknowledging
the progress made by the Government of Sri Lanka in rebuilding infrastructure, demining and resettling the majority of internally displaced persons, while noting nonetheless that considerable work lies ahead in the areas of justice, reconciliation, land use and ownership, the resumption of livelihoods and the restoration of normality to civilian life, and stressing the importance of the full participation of local populations, including representatives of civil society and minorities, in these efforts,
the successful holding of Provincial Council elections on 21 September 2013 and, in particular, the high turnout and participation in all three provinces, while noting with concern reports of election-related violence, as well as of voter and candidate intimidation,
appreciation for the efforts and cooperation of the Government of Sri Lanka in facilitating the visit of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and providing her with open access, and welcoming the visit of the High Commissioner to Sri Lanka in August 2013,
deep concern at reported intimidation and retaliation against civil society members who engage with United Nations human rights mechanisms, including those who met with the High Commissioner during her visit,
serious concern at the continuing reports of violations of human rights in Sri Lanka, including sexual and gender-based violence, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture and violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, threats to judicial independence and the rule of law, as well as intimidation of and reprisals against human rights defenders, members of civil society, lawyers and journalists,
at the significant surge in attacks against members of religious minority groups in Sri Lanka, including Hindus, Muslims and Christians,
the Government of Sri Lanka to fulfil its public commitments, including on the devolution of political authority, which is integral to reconciliation and the full enjoyment of human rights by all members of its population,
Taking note of
the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission of Sri Lanka, its findings and recommendations, and acknowledging its possible contribution to the process of meaningful national reconciliation in Sri Lanka,
the constructive recommendations contained in the Commission’s report, including the need to credibly investigate widespread allegations of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, demilitarize the north of Sri Lanka, implement impartial land dispute resolution mechanisms, re-evaluate detention policies, strengthen formerly independent civil institutions, reach a political settlement on the devolution of power to the provinces, promote and protect the right of freedom of expression for all persons and enact rule of law reforms,
Taking note of
the national plan of action to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission of the Government of Sri Lanka and its commitments as set forth in response to the findings and recommendations of the Commission,
that the national plan of action does not adequately address all of the findings and constructive recommendations of the Commission, and encouraging the Government of Sri Lanka to broaden the scope of the plan to adequately address all elements of the Commission’s report,
Noting with concern
that the national plan of action and the Commission’s report do not adequately address serious allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law,
the importance of a comprehensive approach to transitional justice incorporating the full range of judicial and non-judicial measures, including, inter alia, individual prosecutions, reparations, truth-seeking, institutional reform, vetting of public employees and officials, or an appropriately conceived combination thereof, in order to, inter alia, ensure accountability, serve justice, provide remedies to victims, promote healing and reconciliation, establish independent oversight of the security system, restore confidence in the institutions of the State and promote the rule of law in accordance with international human rights law, with a view to preventing the recurrence of violations and abuses,
that truth-seeking processes, such as truth and reconciliation commissions, that investigate patterns of past human rights violations and their causes and consequences are important tools that can complement judicial processes, and that, when established, such mechanisms have to be designed within a specific societal context and be founded on broad national consultations with the inclusion of victims and civil society, including non-governmental organizations,
the responsibility of States to comply with their relevant obligations to prosecute those responsible for gross violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law constituting crimes under international law, with a view to end impunity,
also the High Commissioner’s conclusion that national mechanisms have consistently failed to establish the truth and to achieve justice, and her recommendation that the Human Rights Council establish an international inquiry mechanism to further investigate the alleged violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law and monitor any domestic accountability processes,
the Government of Sri Lanka to increase its dialogue and cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner, including with regard to technical assistance,
the oral update presented by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-fourth session
and the subsequent report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka
and the recommendations and conclusions contained therein, including on the establishment of a truth-seeking mechanism and national reparations policy as an integral part of a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to transitional justice;
2. Calls upon
the Government of Sri Lanka to conduct an independent and credible investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, as applicable; to hold accountable those responsible for such violations; to end continuing incidents of human rights violations and abuses in Sri Lanka; and to implement the recommendations made in the reports of the Office of the High Commissioner;
its call upon the Government of Sri Lanka to implement effectively the constructive recommendations made in the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, and to take all necessary additional steps to fulfil its relevant legal obligations and commitment to initiate credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans;
the Government of Sri Lanka to investigate all alleged attacks, by individuals and groups, on journalists, human rights defenders, members of religious minority groups and other members of civil society, as well as on temples, mosques and churches, and also urges the Government to hold perpetrators of such attacks to account and to take steps to prevent such attacks in the future;
5. Calls upon
the Government of Sri Lanka to release publicly the results of its investigations into alleged violations by security forces, including the attack on unarmed protesters in Weliweriya on 1 August 2013, and the report of 2013 by the court of inquiry of the Sri Lanka Army;
the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure that all Provincial Councils, including the Northern Provincial Council, are able to operate effectively, in accordance with the 13th amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka;
the visit by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons in December 2013, and calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to facilitate the effective implementation of durable solutions for internally displaced persons, including the long-term displaced;
8. Also welcomes
the invitation to the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants and the Special Rapporteur on the right to education;
the Government of Sri Lanka to cooperate with other special procedures mandate holders and to respond formally to their outstanding requests, including long-standing requests;
10. Takes note of
the recommendations and conclusions of the High Commissioner regarding ongoing human rights violations and the need for an international inquiry mechanism in the absence of a credible national process with tangible results, and requests the Office of the High Commissioner:
(a) To monitor the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and to continue to assess progress on relevant national processes;
(b) To undertake a comprehensive investigation
into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka during the period covered by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, and to establish the facts and circumstances of such alleged violations and of the crimes perpetrated with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring accountability, with assistance from relevant experts and special procedures mandate holders;
(c) To present an oral update to the Human Rights Council at its twenty-seventh session, and a comprehensive report followed by a discussion on the implementation of the present resolution at its twenty-eighth session;
the Office of the High Commissioner and relevant special procedures mandate holders to provide, in consultation with and with the concurrence of the Government of Sri Lanka, advice and technical assistance on implementing the above-mentioned steps;
12. Calls upon
the Government of Sri Lanka to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner in the implementation of the present resolution.
 See A/HRC/24/CRP.3/Rev.1.
Here was our statement:
The Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice today welcomed the decision of the UN Human Rights Council to establish an independent international investigation, while warning of a backlash against activists in Sri Lanka.
Edward Mortimer, Chair of the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice, said,
"It has been obvious for at least three years that only an independent international investigation can establish the truth about what happened in Sri Lanka in the last months of the civil war. There is credible evidence that both sides committed crimes against humanity, and the lack of accountability for this has engendered a culture of impunity which has led to further outrages. We believe that these too amount to crimes against humanity, and that they persist to this day.
"The High Commissioner for Human Rights now has a clear mandate to conduct a robust and thorough investigation into what took place, and is taking place, in Sri Lanka. It is important that she, and her successor, make full use of this mandate.
"The international community must not now look away from Sri Lanka. In the last two weeks we have seen a severe crackdown on all forms of dissent. Campaigner for the Disappeared Balendran Jeyakumari, and at least 10 others, remain in detention without access to their lawyers, and no evidencehas been produced against them. Meanwhile Ruki Fernando and Fr Praveen Mahesan, the activists who were released last week, are still subjected to a gagging order and other forms of judicial harassment. It is terrifying to think how much further the Sri Lankan authorities will go if the international community's attention moves on. They need to be told firmly that there will be real consequences if the crackdown continues."