Tomorrow, the 1st of November, between 2:30 and 6pm, Geneva time (so at 9:30 in New York, 13:30 in London, 19:00 in Colombo & Delhi) Sri Lanka will undergo its second Universal Periodic Review.
This four yearly process allows the Human Rights Council to investigate structural failings with respect to human rights in every country in the world in turn. It is now Sri Lanka's turn. It is an entirely separate process from the Human Rights Council's censure and potential investigation
into Sri Lanka for the failures of its accountability processes.
It can be watched live here.
The Government of Sri Lanka will present their case, then member states will have their chance to question them. The system is ill thought out almost to the point of farce in that, as 99 countries have asked to speak
, each will only be able to do so for 72 seconds. Some countries, have taken the opportunity to ask questions in advance and these, and all other documentation, are available on the UPR website.
There is no opportunity to human rights organisations to speak at all, but 45 have made written submissions, all of which are available here
. They contain some really interesting information.
After the debate a report will be written up and presented via a one hour debate on the 5th of November.
At this point accredited human rights organisations do get to talk - but only for a combined total of 20 minutes.
So its an important process, but one from which we are almost completely excluded. For this reason we, and a number of other organisations will be using twitter and facebook to make sure the world knows what is happening.
Before, during, and after the session we, along with other organisations will be tweeting to the official #UPR14
hashtag, and to a newly created hashtag #UPRLKA
The following individuals and organisations will be taking part:
Action Contre la Faim – France: @ACF_France
Amnesty India: @AIIndia
Centre for Policy Alternatives: @CPASL
Committee to Protect Journalists: @cpjasia
Frances Harrison: @francesharris0n
Freedom from Torture: @FreefromTorture
Human Rights Watch: @jayshreebajoria
, facebook South Asia
International Crisis Group: @akeenan23
Minority Rights Group: @MinorityRights
Pen International: @pen_int
American PEN: @PENamerican
English PEN: @englishpen
Reporters Without Borders: @RSF_RWB
·The Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice: @SLcampaign
Benjamin Dix, author of "the Vanni": @TheVanni2012
So if you are on twitter please do join in, by tweeting your own observations on proceedings or simply by retweeting what we say. Remember the two hashtags #UPR14
And why not tweet to prominent twitter accounts asking them to join in? Or challenge the Government of Sri Lanka directly:
is the twitter account of the Sri Lankan embassy in Washington DC
is the twitter account of Bandula Jayasekara, the Sri Lankan Government spokesperson
is the twitter account of Karu Jayasuriya MP, an MP with the opposition UNP (themselves no stranger to human rights violations)
Other useful accounts to follow:
- Dinouk Colombage, journalist, Sunday Leader
- Mel Gunasekara, journalist, formerly with AFP
- Charles Haviland, journalist, BBC
- Dinidu de Alwis, journalist
- Nirmanusan, Researcher
- R.K.Radhakrishnan, Foreign Correspondent for The Hindu.
If you'd like to read more
Here are a few of our highlights from the various submissions, but they are all worth a read:
wrote a comprehensive dossier on the human rights situation in the country
wrote about the Governments attacks on Human Rights Defenders
Thirty one Sri Lankan organisations
and twenty six Sri Lankan individuals have written a powerful joint submission on the true state of Sri Lanka
The Women’s Action Network and Centre Human Rights and Development
have written movingly on the plight of women in the north
Action Contre la Faim In coalition with SPEAK Human Rights & Environmental Initiative
have written about the failure of the Government of Sri Lanka to do anything about the worst atrocity ever committed against humanitarian aid workers.