Ahead of the 49th session of United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Sri Lanka updated New Delhi-based diplomats on action taken to counter allegations of human rights violations.
Foreign Minister, Prof. G.L. Peiris addressed the diplomatic corps based in New Delhi virtually and shared information on progress related to human rights and reconciliation.
He briefed 83 Heads of Mission accredited to Sri Lanka who based in New Delhi ahead of the UNHRC session scheduled from February 28 to April 1 in Geneva. During the session, a written update on Sri Lanka is to be presented to the Council and an Interactive
Dialogue on Sri Lanka is scheduled for March 3.
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The Sri Lankan government and Tamil rebels, who fought a 26-year long civil war, are accused of human rights violations at the final stages of the war which ended in May 2009.
Addressing the envoys, Peiris said that Sri Lanka's government has undertaken substantial steps with a view to accountability, restorative justice and meaningful
reconciliation which were efforts due to the work of domestic institutions, namely the Office for Reparations (OR), Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR), Office of Missing Persons (OMP), the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), and the Sustainable Development Council (SDC).
Last September, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet had raised
concern over Sri Lanka's role on addressing alleged human rights violations in the past and had decided to initiate maximum information gathering over the said violations.
The UN had initiated action "to collect, consolidate, analyse, and preserve information and evidence, and to develop possible strategies for future accountability processes for gross violations of human rights or serious violations of international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka, to advocate for victims and survivors, and to support relevant judicial and other proceedings".
It also had expressed its concern over the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) which had been to detain suspects violating their basic rights.
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The Sri Lankan government initially refused to cooperate with the UNHRC but later softened its stance after the European parliament threatened to withdraw trade concessions amidst financial crisis the country was facing.
Peiris also told the envoys that at the September 2021 Session of the Human Rights
Council, he had reiterated Sri Lanka's commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and to remain engaged with the United Nations, including the Human Rights Council. He also briefed them on actions taken in line with the UNHRC's demands and particularly, the amendment of the 43-year-old PTA act.