Plea for action on UN High Commissioner’s Report on Sri Lanka

March 20, 2019 Asia , HUMAN RIGHTS , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

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Thambu Kanagasabai



The above Report was released in March 2019 and is without doubt forthright, frank and candid, highlighting the ground situation in Sri Lanka as far as its implementations of the UNHRC Resolutions 30/1 and 30/4 despite a lapse of almost four years.


The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has expressed her criticisms, concerns and disappointments regarding the political attitude of Sri Lanka in implementing these Recommendations. Her conclusion and own Recommendations confirm the realities in Sri Lanka.


This letter is a summary of some important matters including her own plea to the member UNHRC countries requesting them to initiate steps to ensure Justice and Accountability for the war crimes and ensure proper remedies for the war victims in Sri Lanka.


[1] She has “Questioned the capacity and willingness of the Sri Lankan State to address complex and emblematic cases.”

Example: War crimes prosecutions.


[2] She has also observed “Instances of political interferences in judicial and investigative process including limited progress towards achieving Accountability.”

Example: Killing of 5 students in Trincomalee in 2006 and the killings of 17 Action Farm Aid workers in Muthur in 2007.


[3] She is “Concerned about State capacity and willingness to prosecute and punish the perpetrators of serious crimes when they are linked to Security Forces or linked to State power.”


[4] She has also “Exposed the political interference in Judicial and investigative process and the lack of political support of leadership including failure to establish a domestic trustworthy judicial mechanism to address impunity.”


[5] She also confirmed “Lack of decisive steps taken so far on Accountability, Rule of Law and Human Rights.”



With a view to remedy the grievances of affected victims and to ensure Accountability and Justice while closing the door of impunity, she has rightly and justly recommended:


[a] “Universal Jurisdiction for enforcement by United Nations member states against accused war criminals.”


[b] “Some forms of international investigation to ensure prosecution of suspected perpetrators of war crimes, etc. like United Nations Investigations by UN Special Tribunal or by UN’s Ad-hoc Tribunal.



The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has urged the UNHRC Members to act on her above Recommendations and as such a solemn duty and responsibility lies on them to seriously consider implementing her above Recommendations without any delay only to ensure the compliance of Human Rights enshrined in the United Nations and Human Rights Charter and related United Nations Conventions. It is also suggested for all Member States to explore the options of imposing Economic, Political and/or Diplomatic sanctions either individually or collectively as punitive measures as well as deterrents against Sri Lanka to honor the UNHRC Recommendations.


Tamils sincerely hope and trust that you and your reputed country will stand firm and support hand in hand with the respected UN High Commissioner to guarantee the credibility, reputation and standing of UNHRC and UN particularly to uphold and dispense the delayed justice to the victims of human rights in Sri Lanka and elsewhere.





Thambu Kanagasabai

Thambu Kanagasabai LL.M (London) – Former Lecturer in Law, University Of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

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