Australia co-sponsors, Tamils call for stronger UN Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka

The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) expresses its disappointment on the shortcomings of resolution 40/1 ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’ adopted at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), as it fails to set a clear pathway for accelerated progress on achieving transitional justice and accountability for mass atrocity crimes committed in Sri Lanka.

There have been seven such resolutions with Sri Lanka itself co-sponsoring the last three. However, ten years since the war which saw the peak of mass atrocity crimes committed against the Tamil population, very little justice has reached victims and survivors. Action so far has mostly been bureaucratic shuffling for international approval.

Having not delivered on commitments agreed to in resolution 30/1 in 2015, Sri Lanka was given a 2-year extension (resolution 34/1) in 2017. Despite no meaningful progress again, co-sponsored by 32 countries, including Australia, another 2-year extension has been given yet again without strict time frames or consequences for failure in delivering on commitments.

The ATC appreciates the Council’s High Commissioner’s report which includes recommendations such as calling on member states to use universal jurisdiction to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes in Sri Lanka. However, the resolution has failed to meaningfully incorporate any of these.

“We are frustrated that member states have not taken a more robust approach to ensure delivery of Sri Lanka’s commitments made in previous resolutions,” said Ms. Avi Selva, ATC NSW director, who is currently attending UNHRC sessions in Geneva.

“This resolution yet again aids Sri Lanka’s tactic of delaying and hence denying justice to victims and survivors,” said ATC Spokesperson, Dr Sam Pari.

The ATC acknowledges Australia and other co-sponsoring countries and the Core Group for ensuring Sri Lanka continues to be monitored by the UNHRC. It is grateful to the NGOs and human rights defenders, including from Sri Lanka, who so diligently create awareness of past and ongoing abuses in Sri Lanka.  

Given Sri Lanka’s lack of will to bring perpetrators to justice, the ATC joins Tamil victim and survivor communities within the island, the Diaspora and international human rights organisations in calling for alternate UN processes to be considered such as referral to the ICC or the establishment of an international criminal tribunal.

Media contact:

Ms. Avi Selva, NSW Director, ATC      +417679678

Dr. Sam Pari, Spokesperson, ATC      0416206431