A long way for Sri Lanka

During a Franciscans International co-organized side event to the 34th Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), both the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsák-Ndiaye, and partner organisations have highlighted that the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) has done too little in the past two years to address human rights abuses.

Since the adoption of HRC Resolution 30/1 in 2015 the GoSL was expected to fulfil the recommendations of taking specific measures for institutional reform, justice, truth and reparations. However, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, land return, ethnic, linguistic and religious discrimination, and sexual violence against women and girls remain very serious and unaddressed issues in contemporary Sri Lanka.

Franciscans International, together with local partners, has been very active in advocating for an effective and sustainable transitional justice in the aftermath of the 27 years long conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

In a joint statement to the 34th Session of the HRC, in March 2017, Franciscans International also emphasised how the heavy presence of the military in the northern part of the county is a serious challenge to transitional justice. There, the perception of the Tamil and other minority population is to live under an occupying force. In addition to be homogeneously Sinhalese and Buddhist, the army engages in everyday commercial activities—e.g. shops, restaurants, hotels, etc.—leaving local businesses unable to compete.

Franciscans International, together with its partners, calls for the expedited return of land occupied by the military to its owners, the repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and its replacement with legislation in agreement with with international human rights standards, a political and constitutional settlement of the conflict, demilitarization, an end to the culture of impunity, upholding the rule of law and the establishment of the Office of Missing Persons and the other mechanisms and measures identified in the HRC Resolution 30/1 and the recommendations of the Consultation Task Force Report.

Only through human rights based reforms and demilitarisation, all the peoples of Sri Lanka will find peace and justice. It’s time for the Government to act.