The Canadian Tamil Congress welcomes the passage of today’s historic resolution on Sri Lanka (A/HRC/30/L.29) at the United Nations Human Rights Council
October 1, 2015.
Geneva, Switzerland – This consensus resolution provides an opportunity to begin real progress on accountability, reconciliation and devolution of power in Sri Lanka. We are grateful to the initial co-sponsors of this resolution, and all the ones leading up to it, for engaging with Tamil elected representatives and civil society groups, the diaspora and international NGOs throughout the process. We also commend the Tamil National Alliance for their input in arriving at this juncture and for standing firm on the necessity of including language on meaningful international participation and oversight in the resolution. Finally, we extend our gratitude to Canada for co-sponsoring the resolution and being an active participant during the process.
“This is a historic day for justice and reconciliation for Tamils in Sri Lanka, and one towards which the Canadian Tamil Congress has been working hard for the past six years,” stated Raj Thavaratnasingham, President of the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC), from Geneva. Members of CTC’s human rights team were present throughout the session—a continuation of our advocacy work over the last six years.
While CTC acknowledges that this resolution is an important step in the right direction, we know there remains significant work to be done to ensure that the ensuing processes earn the trust and support of Tamil victims and war-affected communities. We urge the government of Sri Lanka to uphold the spirit of the resolution and its commitment to the international community by ensuring the grievances of the Tamil people are addressed right from the get go.
To start, as clearly recommended by the report of Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, any credible accountability mechanism must include international judges, defense lawyers, prosecutors and investigators, highlighted in operative paragraph 6 of the resolution. In addition, while we note Sri Lanka’s commitment to engage in broad national consultations with the inclusion of victims and civil society, we emphasize that to safeguard the credibility of the process and achieve true accountability, consultations must be extended to the large number of victims outside of Sri Lanka, many of whom provided testimony to the High Commissioner’s investigation. Diaspora groups generally should also be engaged in the process and to this end, we reiterate our strong demand for the repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, a de-listing of Tamil diaspora organizations and a review and strengthening of the Victims and Witness Protection Act, as called for in the High Commissioner’s report.
Additionally, we encourage the Sri Lankan government to uphold its promise to find a sustainable political solution that meaningfully devolves political authority to the Tamil people in consultation with Tamil political parties and civil society. These processes should result in the adoption of a new fairly developed constitution, as promised by the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister in his address to the Council.
At this historic juncture, it is imperative that the international community maintain oversight of and pressure on Sri Lanka to ensure that this resolution does not lead to yet another failed accountability and reconciliation process. As a diaspora organization that has at heart the best interests of Tamil people in and outside of Sri Lanka, CTC will continue to call for full implementation of the recommendations of the OISL Report and advocate for the interests of the Tamil people in the implementation of this resolution. At the end of six long years of work at the UN Human Rights Council, we are optimistic to be at the beginning of a new, if not difficult, road for the Tamil people in Sri Lanka.
For more information contact: David Poopalapillai, National Spokesperson 905-781-7034, CTC Office 416-240-0078