Michelle Bachelet calls Tamils a ‘minority’

[TamilNet, Thursday, 27 February 2020, 23:23 GMT]
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who gave an oral update on her annual report on the human rights situation in “Sri Lanka” recognised the fundamental problem in the island as that the state of “Sri Lanka” not addressing impunity for past violations. The SL State has not undertaken the security sector reforms needed to address the “drivers and enablers” of the violations, she said. The UN Rights Chief was also regretting to the SL withdrawal of co-sponsorship to the consensus UNHRC resolutions noted that the new SL government had announced a “very different approach” to the commitments previously made. However, Ms Bachelet referred to the occupied nation of Eezham Tamils with a distinct homeland in the North-East as a “minority” in the island.

Presenting her latest assessment on the progress made in implementing Human Rights Council resolution 30/1, she also said that “systemic barriers that continue to exist within the criminal justice system remain an impediment to real justice”.

“Domestic processes have consistently failed to deliver accountability in the past, and I am not convinced the appointment of yet another Commission of Inquiry will advance this agenda,” she added.

“As a result, victims remain denied justice and Sri Lankans from all communities have no guarantee that past patterns of human rights violations will not recur.”

The UN rights chief was discussing the report along with the human rights situations in Colombia, Cyprus, Eritrea, Guatemala, Honduras, Iran, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Yemen.

Albania, Australia, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America were the co-sponsors to the “consensus” Resolution 30/1 on “Sri Lanka”.

Of these, only three countries, Australia, Germany, and Poland are the members of the current council.

The US under Obama Administration was using the situation in the island for its geopolitical bandwagoning.

However, the US, under the Trump Administration, withdrew its membership from the 47-member council in June 2018.

The 47 member states during the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council (24 February - 20 March 2020) are the following: Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, Czechia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Eritrea, Fiji, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Libya, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Senegal, Slovakia, Somalia, Spain, Sudan, Togo, Ukraine, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The oral update on HRC/43/19 by Michelle Bachelet follows:

“I move to our update on Sri Lanka, HRC/43/19, assessing the progress made in implementing Human Rights Council resolution 30/1. I regret that the new Government has announced a very different approach to the commitments previously made in the resolution which risks setting back efforts to advance reconciliation, accountability and human rights.

“The State must work for all its people and the needs of all communities, particularly the minorities, must be acknowledged and addressed. I urge the Government to preserve and build upon the gains which have been made over the last few years. In particular, I encourage the Government to ensure the Office on Missing Persons and the Office of Reparations are provided with political and resource support. The families of missing persons from all communities deserve justice and redress.

“Sri Lanka’s independent institutions, strengthened under the 19th Constitutional Amendment, are a key pillar in its democratic structure. And the space for civil society and independent media should be protected. I am therefore troubled by the recent trend towards moving civilian functions under the Ministry of Defence or retired military officers, and renewed reports of surveillance and harassment of human rights defenders, journalists and victims. The increasing levels of hate speech, and security and policy measures appear to be discriminately and disproportionately directed against minorities, both Tamil and Muslim.

“The fundamental problem remains that Sri Lanka has still not addressed impunity for past violations, nor undertaken the security sector reforms needed to address their drivers and enablers. Systemic barriers that continue to exist within the criminal justice system remain an impediment to real justice. Domestic processes have consistently failed to deliver accountability in the past and I am not convinced the appointment of yet another Commission of Inquiry will advance this agenda. As a result, victims remain denied justice and Sri Lankans from all communities have no guarantee that past patterns of human rights violations will not recur.

“I urge the Council to remain alert to this situation in terms of prevention and to explore all possible avenues for advancing accountability.”


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External Links:
OHCHR: Human Rights Council 43rd Session: Statement by Michelle Bachelet


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