- Sri Lanka sees toughest UN resolution after failing to tackle rights abuses at grassroots level
- Foreign Minister says SL needs strong truth-seeking mechanism to stop international interference
- Central bank chief says IMF hasn’t asked about human rights in economic crisis
ECONOMYNEXT – The latest resolution that promotes reconciliation in Sri Lanka was passed by a 20-7 vote at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Thursday, with many countries close to the island nation’s ruling elite having voted against the wishes of the island nation.
The new resolution also focused on the impact of the economic crisis on human rights.
Twenty countries, including India, Japan, Indonesia, Qatar, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates, abstained in voting on the resolution which also calls on the island nation to address past violations of human rights. human rights.
“It’s nothing unexpected. There was so much pressure on some countries to vote for the resolution. So we knew that,” Foreign Minister Ali Sabry told EconomyNext by phone from Geneva shortly after the end of the vote.
“The composition has changed and some of our friendly nations are not there and some have abstained,” said Minister Sabry.
“This has been on the agenda since 2009. Locally, we need to put in place a strong truth-seeking mechanism, which we should have done since 2009 to a level where no other country interferes in our internal affairs. .”
The new resolution, the toughest Sri Lanka has faced so far, is expected to further tighten the space Sri Lanka has to deal with international trade, as several key trade concession conventions like the GSP Plus Europe are directly linked to human rights.
The European Union has already threatened to withdraw its trade concession because the country has not respected its commitments regarding the implementation of certain key international conventions.
The draft resolution, titled “Promoting Reconciliation, Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka” and sponsored by the UK, US, Germany, Canada, Malawi, Montenegro and North Macedonia.
This is the 7th HRC resolution against Sri Lanka’s human rights record since the end of a 26-year war in 2009. Sri Lanka won against the resolution only in 2009 and there was no vote in 2015 as Sri Lanka chose to cooperate with the HRC resolution.
The latest resolution comes as Sri Lanka seeks the support of all foreign nations to emerge from an unprecedented economic crisis that led to a political crisis and ousted the former prime minister and president after their economic mismanagement.
Economic crisis, corruption
The project also highlights the importance of addressing the underlying governance factors and root causes that have contributed to Sri Lanka’s unprecedented economic crisis. It also recognizes that the promotion and protection of human rights and the prevention and fight against corruption are mutually reinforcing.
In a report, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recommended drastically reducing military spending, decisively tackling corruption, increasing investment in health, social security and education through international cooperation, to assess any potential human rights impact of international financial assistance programs and to take preventive measures to reduce them to an absolute minimum.
Simon Manley, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the UK Mission to the WTO, UN and other international organizations (Geneva), said the text of the resolution is largely based on the resolution of the last year, but has been updated to reflect some of the key developments over the past 18 months including an economic crisis, mass protests and a change of government, all of which have had a significant impact on the rights situation people in the country.
“This reflects some of the most recent concerns outlined in the High Commissioner’s report, in particular the impact of the economic crisis on human rights,” he said.
The main demands of the resolution are to continue the work started in last year’s resolution which created the capacity within the Office to collect, consolidate, analyze and retain information to support legal and other proceedings.
“This capacity was put in place in response to the lack of progress made by Sri Lanka’s domestic legal mechanisms in accountability for alleged gross human rights violations in the past.
The new draft calls for additional reporting by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and proposes to change the time frame from 18 months to 2 years in an effort to allow sufficient time for the middle of the economic crisis.
“The adoption of the UN Human Rights Council resolution reflects the need for continued international control over Sri Lanka,” said Dinushika Dissanayake, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for South Asia. South, in a press release.
“The Sri Lankan government should uphold the commitments it has made to the international community and ensure the effective functioning of reparation bodies for human rights violations, such as the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission Lanka, the Office of Missing Persons, the Office of Reparations, and the National Authority for the Protection of Crime Victims and Witnesses, among others.
Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said the Sri Lankan government should act now to uphold the economic, social and political rights demanded by thousands of people through peaceful protests, end the crackdown on protesters and ensure accountability for abuses, including war crimes.
The Sri Lankan government has taken some small steps to protect human rights and past violations. This has drawn heavy criticism from the West and rights groups, as the successive Sri Lankan government has failed to hold anyone accountable for past abuses.
Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said the country would not support any external evidence-gathering mechanism as it was against the island nation’s constitution. He also criticized the inclusion of the economic crisis in the latest draft citing that the HRC does not have a mandate to investigate economic crimes.
Sri Lanka is in the process of securing a $2.9 billion loan from the IMF and some government officials have raised concerns over the latest resolution which included economic crimes and corruption.
“We have not been informed by the IMF whether there might be an impact on the loan due to the HRC resolution,” Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe told reporters in Colombo on Thursday. briefing on monetary policy rates. (Colombo/Oct06/2022)