Sri Lanka and Colombia: action needed to end impunity (UN Statement)

The ICJ today highlighted at the UN the need for further action to address impunity in Sri Lanka and in Colombia.

The statement, delivered in a general debate at the UN Human Rights Council, responded to UN reports on Sri Lanka and Colombia, and read as follows:

Sri Lanka has not made sufficient progress on its commitments and obligations as reflected in Council resolution 30/1. Among the mechanisms contemplated, only the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) is operational. The process for establishing the other mechanisms, and the extent to which their composition will be based on the broad national public consultations carried out in 2016, remains unclear. The ICJ reiterates that, in line with operative paragraph 6 of resolution 30/1, the accountability mechanism cannot be seen as credible without involvement of international judges, prosecutors and investigators.

Furthermore, despite promises to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), arrests still take place. As the High Commissioner recommended, the PTA should be promptly repealed without waiting for replacement legislation. Any proposed counterterrorism law must comply with international human rights standards.

In Colombia, the ICJ shares OHCHR’s deep concern about the exclusion of non-military State agents and private individuals from the scope of mandatory application of the Integrated System of Justice, Truth, Reparations and Guarantees of Non-repetition (per paragraph 90 of the Report). Furthermore, four months of unjustified delay by the Government in accrediting the new representative of the OHCHR Office, which ended only yesterday, undermined the ability of the Office to provide adequate technical assistance to guarantee victims’ rights in the Integrated System, as provided for by the Peace Agreement.”

[Paragraph 6 of Human Rights Council resolution 30/1 provides that the Council, “Welcomes the recognition by the Government of Sri Lanka that accountability is essential to uphold the rule of law and to build confidence in the people of all communities of Sri Lanka in the justice system, notes with appreciation the proposal of the Government of Sri Lanka to establish a judicial mechanism with a special counsel to investigate allegations of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, as applicable; affirms that a credible justice process should include independent judicial and prosecutorial institutions led by individuals known for their integrity and impartiality; and also affirms in this regard the importance of participation in a Sri Lankan judicial mechanism, including the special counsel’s office, of Commonwealth and other foreign judges, defence lawyers and authorized prosecutors and investigators;”]



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