The Human Rights Watch (HRW) yesterday called on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to set out concrete benchmarks for an effective justice and accountability mechanism, including a majority of international judges in an independent system to address the wartime violations in the final phase of Sri Lanka's civil war.
Addressing the General Debate following the Oral Update by the High Commissioner, the Human Rights watchdog said that the High Commissioner’s much-anticipated investigative report on Sri Lanka will play a vital role in informing international consideration of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, minimum benchmarks required to ensure a credible justice and accountability process, and the follow-up required. Three elements are crucial to a credible response from this Council:
First, the resolution will need to set out concrete benchmarks for an effective justice and accountability mechanism, including a majority of international judges in an independent system, an independent international prosecutor, and measures to ensure that the applicable law for the mechanism will include customary international humanitarian law, notably command responsibility.
Second, the resolution will need to engage with the High Commissioner’s recommendations regarding national reforms needed, including repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, ensuring detainees are not subject to torture or ill-treatment, and measures to address enforced disappearances.
Third, it is crucial that the Council remain seized of the matter, and make provision for regular reporting and updates until such time as the concerns that led to the creation of the OHCHR investigation have been addressed and have delivered genuine justice.
"The families of Sri Lanka’s dead and disappeared have waited years and in some cases decades for justice. This Council must not fail them," it said.