While Sri Lanka claimed victory over the unanimous decision of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to adopt Sri Lanka’s periodic review, the United States expressed its disappointment over the country’s rejection of all UPR recommendations from States that called upon it to implement the LLRC recommendations.
Delivering a statement, the US Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe said the US is disappointed that Sri Lankan Government rejected all UPR recommendations from States that called upon it to implement the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) recommendations and called on the Government to expeditiously implement both the UPR and LLRC recommendations.
The US however, welcomed the Government’s statement of its intention to accept recommendations to combat gender-based violence, to carry out an independent and credible investigation into the allegations of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and to strengthen the independence of institutions, including the Human Rights Commission, Police Commission, and Election Commission.
Donahoe noted that during the review, a number of States called for the implementation of the recommendations of Sri Lanka’s own LLRC. The US accused Sri Lankan delegation of attempting to reframe Sri Lanka’s human rights commitments in terms of the Government’s National Plan of Action, which does not address the broad spectrum of recommendations put forward by the LLRC report, and by lobbying other delegations to revise their UPR recommendations to exclude reference to the LLRC report after they had been orally presented.
“Major changes were made to the substance of recommendations after the interactive dialogue. This is inconsistent with the transparent, interactive character of the UPR,” the US said. The US expressed disappointment that the Sri Lankan Government rejected nearly all recommendations regarding engagement and cooperation with UN special procedures mandate holders.
Ambassador Donahoe said the US continues to note with concern the Government’s actions with regard to Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, including her impeachment, which was conducted in defiance of a Supreme Court order and which continues to raise serious questions about the separation of powers in Sri Lanka and the impact of its absence on democratic institutions.
“Further, we share the concerns expressed by other States over the series of threats and attacks against legal defenders, civil society organisations, and human rights activists, including reprisals against those cooperating with the UN,” the Ambassador said in her intervention at the Council.
The US reiterated its call on the Sri Lankan Government to “protect human rights and fundamental freedoms and to ensure that all citizens are able to express their opinions without fear of retribution.”