U.S. Statement at the Discussion of OHCHR’s Sri Lanka Report

Intervention of the United States of America

Human Rights Council 30 – Geneva
High Commissioner’s Presentation of Sri Lanka Report

As Delivered by Ambassador Keith Harper

Geneva,
September 30, 2015

 

Thank you, Deputy High Commissioner, for your remarks, and thank you for the painstaking work of your office in documenting human rights violations and abuses that have occurred in Sri Lanka.  I would also like to thank Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Samaraweera for his constructive statement earlier this session detailing the government’s vision for justice and reconciliation.

The findings of the OHCHR’s report on its investigation on Sri Lanka with respect to acts by both sides are chilling.  Unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, sexual and gender-based violence, torture, and abductions are just some of the alleged violations and abuses catalogued by the OHCHR investigation.  And while initial progress has been made by the  new government on strengthening democratic institutions, land restitution and finding solutions for internally displaced people, much more work remains to be done, including on ensuring justice and accountability.  A credible reconciliation process, in turn, will serve as the foundation for an enduring peace and security in Sri Lanka.

January 2015 marked a new beginning for Sri Lanka.  The government’s invitations to High Commissioner Zeid, Special Rapporteur de Greiff, and the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances are powerful signs of an important shift that has occurred in Sri Lanka. We welcome these signs.  The passage of the nineteenth amendment, actions taken to advance respect for human rights, and the establishment of the Office of National Unity and Reconciliation are also concrete steps in the right direction and critical steps on this new path.

We commend furthermore the Sri Lankan government’s expression of openness to working collaboratively with OHCHR as it establishes for all Sri Lankans a future based on justice, reconciliation, rule of law, and respect for fundamental freedoms.  The path on which Sri Lanka has embarked to achieve justice, reconciliation and lasting peace is a challenging one, but we are confident that the government, the Sri Lankan people and the international community can work together to meet those challenges.