Efforts to ensure justice for victims have failed, Michelle Bachelet said when presenting her report on Sri Lanka to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Twelve years after the end of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka, national efforts to ensure justice for victims have failed, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on Wednesday.
Presenting his report on Sri Lanka to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Bachelet said the effects of the conflict on thousands of survivors from all communities were devastating.
“Despite the commitments made in 2015, the current government, like its predecessor, has failed to pursue a genuine process of seeking truth or accountability,” she said.
“The impact on thousands of survivors, from all communities, is devastating. Moreover, the systems, structures, policies and personnel that gave rise to such serious violations in the past remain – and have been recently strengthened.
The decades-long civil war between Sri Lankan security forces and Tamil Tigers separatists ended almost 12 years ago in 2009.
The war claimed an estimated 100,000 lives, including up to 40,000 Tamil civilians killed by Sri Lankan forces in the final attack, a charge the government denies.
UN reports have accused Sri Lankan troops of bombing hospitals and indiscriminate airstrikes, killing rebels who surrendered and causing the disappearance of thousands of minority Tamils.
Bachelet said the independence of the judiciary and other accountability bodies had been “deeply eroded” following a recent constitutional amendment and accused the Sri Lankan government of blocking the possibility of real progress to end. impunity.
“The independence of the judiciary, the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission, the National Police Commission and other key bodies has been deeply eroded by the recently adopted 20th Constitutional Amendment,” Bachelet said. .
“The increasing militarization of key civilian functions is impinging on democratic governance. The continued inability to implement comprehensive reforms – or to control personnel – leaves in place security and military officers who have been implicated in alleged serious crimes and violations.
She said long-standing structural and systemic problems persisted in Sri Lanka and warned that there were “clear warning signs that the patterns of past violations may repeat themselves.”
A UNHCR report last month said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government reversed some progress made under previous administrations in protecting human rights in the country.
Surveillance of rights activists and dissidents has intensified and a climate of self-censorship has emerged, he said.
Rajapaksa won the 2019 presidential election on a nationalist platform that included a pledge that troops who crushed Tamil rebels would not be prosecuted.
Rajapaksa was primarily responsible for defense when government forces crushed rebel fighters in a military campaign that ended in May 2009. His brother Mahinda was then president and is currently the prime minister.
Sri Lanka on Tuesday urged the United Nations Human Rights Council to reject an upcoming resolution expressing “grave concern” at the “deteriorating” human rights situation in the country.
Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena told the council the resolution was a “political gesture” and part of an “unprecedented propaganda campaign” against Sri Lanka.
The UK, Canada, Germany, Malawi, Montenegro and North Macedonia submitted a draft resolution for consideration by the 47-member council next month.