Freedom from Torture welcomes UN resolution to keep pressure on Sri Lanka
Freedom from Torture welcomed today’s decision by the UN Human Rights Council to keep the human rights situation in Sri Lanka under review for a further two years.
The resolution adopted today with the support of the Sri Lankan government recognises the need to keep pressure on the government to fully deliver the commitment they previously made on reconciliation, accountability and human rights.
Tania Baldwin-Pask, head of international advocacy at Freedom from Torture, said:
“The government of Sri Lanka has given the international community important commitments to end impunity, deliver justice and build institutions to uphold human rights. The Human Rights Council’s decision to keep the human rights situation under scrutiny helps maintain pressure on the government to fulfil its promises.
“Torture survivors have told us that they believe long-term peace is only achievable if the government brings the perpetrators of human rights abuses, including torturers, to justice. We look to the government of Sri Lanka to use their political leadership to put in place a strategy to deliver real progress on accountability, transitional justice and reform in areas such as the security sector in order to dismantle the structures that allow torture and other abuses to continue happening”.
In 2016, Sri Lanka was the top country of origin for torture survivors referred to Freedom from Torture for clinical services and medico-legal reports for the fifth consecutive year. These referrals include survivors of torture who have been detained since the current government took office in January 2015.
Freedom from Torture has also identified a significant number of people who report being tortured on their return to Sri Lanka from the UK. In his report to the Council, the High Commissioner for Human Rights called on states to ensure that Tamils who have suffered torture and other violations are not returned to Sri Lanka until relevant guarantees are in place to ensure that they will not be subject to further violations.
The human rights situation in Sri Lanka has been reviewed recently by a number of independent experts and bodies at the UN. These include the Special Rapporteur on torture who visited the country in 2016 and concluded that “a culture of torture persists”. The Committee against Torture also reviewed in November 2016 and expressed its concern at allegations of the routine use of torture.
The UN Human Rights Council is the body within the UN system charged with ensuring the promotion and protection of human rights. It comprises 47 member states of the UN, which are elected by the General Assembly.
In March 2014, the Council adopted resolution A/HRC/25/1 on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka. This called on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to undertake an investigation into alleged human rights abuses and related crimes carried out by both parties to the conflict between February 2002 to November 2011. The report of that investigation is contained in document A/HRC/30/CRP.2, 16 September 2015. Subsequently the Council adopted a resolution in October 2015 (A/HRC/RES/30/1) which sets out the commitments made by the government to ending impunity, delivering justice and establishing institutions to prevent future violations.