Mar 21, Geneva: The United States Ambassador to the Permanent Mission of U.S. to UN in Geneva says the resolution adopted Thursday by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on the human rights situation, reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka is a message sent by the International Community for Sri Lanka to take "meaningful steps toward truth and accountability."
Addressing the media following the adoption of the resolution, the U.S. Ambassador Eileen Donahoe said the resolution should be seen as both an expression of support by the international community to the people of Sri Lanka, and as an expression of encouragement and concern to the government of Sri Lanka.
"The international community has sent a message that lasting peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka will require meaningful steps toward truth and accountability," Donahoe said.
"The international community came together to call upon the government of Sri Lanka to fulfill its stated obligation to its own people to take concrete steps to move forward to address outstanding issues related to truth and reconciliation, and by meeting its obligation on accountability," she added.
The resolution, which includes specific follow up actions including an interim update by the High Commissioner in September and a comprehensive report in March 2014 by the Office of the High Commissioner, is a strong signal that the international community intends to remain seized with the situation in Sri Lanka, Donahoe said.
She said the resolution relied upon the detailed report of the High Commissioner Navi Pillay, which made clear that Sri Lanka must take meaningful action on reconciliation and accountability, including the establishment of a truth-seeking mechanism as an integral part of transitional justice.
Sri Lanka rejected Pillay's report saying that it is flawed and based on factual inaccuracies. Further, Sri Lanka charged that Pillay and her office exceeded the mandate given by the Resolution 19/2 and did not consult or concur with the Sri Lankan government before making recommendations as required by the Resolution.
Several countries including Russian federation representing 14 countries agreed with Sri Lanka and told the UNHCR Wednesday that the High Commissioner has exceeded her mandate and the reports expresses inherent bias.
Donahoe said the new resolution built on Pillay's report addresses the growing concerns over the deteriorating human rights situation in Sri Lanka, including reports of forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, as well as intimidations and reprisals against human rights defenders.
The Ambassador said, the U.S. along with 40 co-sponsors put forward this resolution in a spirit of friendship toward the people of Sri Lanka, but also out of genuine concern about the lack of follow-through on the promises by the government of Sri Lanka to carry out a credible form of domestic accountability.
"We are concerned about some worrying signs of back sliding with respect to the rule of law and protection of human rights in the current situation as well," she said.
The U.S. reiterated that it is ready to assist Sri Lanka to make necessary progress on these longstanding issues of reconciliation and accountability.
The Office of the High Commissioner, as well as the Special Procedures, are also standing by ready to assist the government of Sri Lanka with technical assistance and capacity building so that they can move forward toward a sustainable peace and reconciliation, based on truth and accountability, the Ambassador said.