Following is a statement from the British High Commission in Colombo on Sri Lanka’s Co-Sponsorship of the UNHRC Resolution in Geneva
The UK welcomes the co-sponsorship of the new UN Human Rights Council resolution by the Government of Sri Lanka, which reaffirms commitments made in resolution 30/1 in October 2015, for the next two years. By co-sponsoring a new resolution the Government of Sri Lanka has demonstrated its commitment to human rights, accountability and reconciliation, as important elements of a lasting political settlement for all Sri Lanka’s communities.
As the report of the Office of the High Commissioner notes, there have been some improvements made to the human rights situation in Sri Lanka since January 2015. We recognise that further progress is needed and believe that continued support and encouragement from the international community, including through the UN Human Rights Council, will be an important factor in delivering this.
We join the High Commissioner in recognising the steps taken by the Government of Sri Lanka since January 2015 to improve the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, in particular the restoration of important democratic checks and balances, improvements in respect for freedoms of expression and movement, the return of some military-held land, the passing of legislation to establish an Office for Missing Persons, the ratification of the Convention on Enforced Disappearances and the initiation of a process of constitutional reform.
However, as the High Commissioner’s report clearly states, much remains to be done. We encourage the Government to take the steps necessary to deliver fully on the commitments it made when co-sponsoring resolution 30/01 and to develop and communicate a comprehensive and time bound implementation strategy. In particular, we encourage the Government to deliver meaningful devolution through constitutional reform, establish credible transitional justice mechanisms, return all remaining military-held private land and replace the Prevention of Terrorism Act with human rights compliant legislation.
We also welcome the work of the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation Mechanisms and encourage the Sri Lankan Government to give due consideration to its recommendations.
In November 2015, the UK committed £6.6 million over three years to support Sri Lanka’s ambitious reform agenda. This includes work on police reform and training, defence engagement, support to the UN’s work on reconciliation and peace building, inter-religious dialogue and mediation, capacity building on anti-bribery and the fight against corruption, and demining in the north of the country. The UK and the wider international community are helping support Sri Lankan Government efforts to implement its commitments on reconciliation, accountability, human rights and a political settlement that delivers equitable and just governance for all Sri Lankans.