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UN resolution an important step towards justice for minority communities in Sri Lanka

23 March 2012

Minority Rights Group International (MRG) welcomes the passing of a resolution by the United Nations Human Rights Council on Sri Lanka on Thursday.

The resolution called on the government to implement the recommendations of its Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, set up in the wake of Sri Lanka’s civil war, including the demilitarisation of the North of the country, reaching an agreement on decentralisation of powers to the regions, establishment of impartial mechanisms to resolve land disputes, strengthening of civil institutions, and steps to promote and respect freedom of expression.

However the resolution also recognised that the Commission had not provided an adequate mechanism to investigate allegations of violations of human rights and the laws of war committed by the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. A United Nations panel unearthed compelling evidence of widespread abuses, particularly by government forces. The resolution called on the government to investigate these allegations and prosecute those found responsible.

“While Sri Lanka has achieved a cessation of armed conflict, the people of the country, and in particular members of minorities including Tamils, Muslims and Christians, are still waiting for a comprehensive peace. The grievances which were at the root of the conflict are still there. This resolution indicates the right direction towards addressing those grievances,” said Chris Chapman, Head of Conflict Prevention at MRG.

The resolution was co-sponsored by 40 states, and passed with a vote of 24 in favour and 15 against (8 abstentions).