Flag this message HRC Special Session on Sri Lanka – Oral Statement of by Sunanda Deshapriya for FORUM-ASIA – May 27

Oral statement delivered by Mr. Sunanda Deshapriya on behalf of

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

11th Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council: Human Rights Situation in Sri Lanka

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Thank you, Mr. President.

FORUM-ASIA believes that it is more than timely that the Special Session is taking place with the armed conflict having come to an end. The situation now demands greater attention and scrutiny at this critical juncture which should be the moment for us to explore forward-looking, durable and constructive ways together to re-establish long lasting peace and human rights in Sri Lanka .

Mr. President, acknowledging the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to resettle the internally displaced persons (IDPs) within 180 days, we still would like to highlight that the present conditions within the IDP camps remain to be of grave concern. Access of humanitarian agencies, media and civil society actors to the camps are severely restricted, instead the displaced are living in a climate of uncertainty and trauma. The Government of Sri Lanka must live up to its commitment made during this Special Session towards relief, resettlement and rehabilitation of the displaced. In doing so, the Government should create an environment in which aid workers, medical personnel, media and human rights defenders are free to carry out their own mandate. In this respect, we urge the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure the safety and release of those three doctors who were providing care and assistance and informed the world about the human tragedies that were taking place in the conflict zone.

Mr. President, the concerns of the Human Rights Council must not be confined to the humanitarian situation alone. The deep rooted issues of discrimination and impunity have been allowed to continue unabated throughout the decades. Those wishing to speak out against the practice and policies of the Government, in particular the media and journalists have been subjected to intimidation, harassment and threats to their lives. There has been a sharp increase of uninvestigated killings and disappearances of journalists, media workers, human rights defenders and religious personalities. In order to enable enhanced scrutiny, sustainable human rights monitoring and effective implementation of technical cooperation programmes, the strengthened presence of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Sri Lanka, including through the establishment of a field office should be seriously considered.

Lastly, Mr. President, again we emphasize that the outcome of this Special Session should reflect the crucial need of access for humanitarian agencies to accurately assess the needs of the displaced and document the testimonies of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed during the conflict. This would be along the lines as expressed in the joint statement of the Government of Sri Lanka and the UN Secretary-General at the conclusion of the Secretary- General’s visit to Sri Lanka on 23 May 2009 where it reads “The Secretary-General underlined the importance of an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. The Government will take measures to address those grievances”. Investigations are crucial for truth and reconciliation and to restore the dignity of victims. Thank you, Mr. President.

Giyoun Kim
UN Advocacy Programme Manager
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Rue de Varembé 1, 2nd Floor, 1202 Geneva , Switzerland
Tel: +41 (0)22 740 2947 Fax: +41 (0)22 740 2948
Mobile : +41 (0)79 595 7931 ( Geneva ) / +66 (0)81 450 9730 ( Bangkok )


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