22nd Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council Item 2: Annual Report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Reports of the OHCHR and the Secretary‐General ‐ General Debate
21 March 2013 11:32 am

Oral Statement Delivered by Ms. Pooja Patel on Behalf of
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM‐ASIA)
Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Thank you, Mr. President. FORUM‐ASIA sincerely appreciates the report of the OHCHR on the issue of reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka (A/HRC/22/38). We note that the follow‐up draft resolution tabled at this Council session incorporates several findings and recommendations by the High Commissioner, including the establishment of a truth‐seeking mechanism, and we urge the government of Sri Lanka to maximize the assistance offered by the OHCHR in this regard. We also echo the High Commissioner’s call for an independent and credible investigation into alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed by both parties to the conflict. We emphasize that the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) must be implemented comprehensively and are disappointed by the selective approach taken by the government’s National Plan of Action to Implement the Recommendations of the LLRC.[1]

Mr. President, as highlighted by the High Commissioner, the government continues to overlook resolving land‐related issues for the purpose of attaining a durable solution for IDPs, which exacerbates the grievances of minority populations. Some of the recommendations accepted and included in the government’s National Plan of Action pertain to issues of land in the context of return and resettlement of IDPs, regrettably however, the government of Sri Lanka is not honouring even these provisions in its own action plan.[2] More than ten thousand families in war affected areas, particularly in Jaffna, Mannar, Mullaitivu and Trincomalee, have been unable to resettle and resume their livelihoods in their villages due to military occupation of their land. Many are living in temporary settlements where their households lack decent shelter, sanitation and potable water. The current version of the draft resolution on Sri Lanka welcomes the progress made by the government in resettling majority of the IDPs, yet the ground reality presents an urgent need to address the immediate requirements of the remaining “old” and “new” IDPs in the North and East, particularly adequate housing and infrastructure to womenheaded households. In this vein, we call on the government of Sri Lanka to pay serious heed to all the recommendations of both the High Commissioner and the LLRC regarding demilitarization of the former conflict areas. Furthermore, the government must take on board the High Commissioner’s recommendation to take concrete steps towards the devolution of power to demonstrate genuinely consultative and inclusive reconciliation.

Finally, Mr. President, FORUM‐ASIA highlights the recommendations of the High Commissioner to enact laws to criminalize enforced disappearances and ensure the right of information, while also bringing existing legislation such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act, in line with international human rights norms and standards with the view to facilitate an environment where the rule of law and human rights for all are respected. Thank you, Mr. President.

[1] FORUM‐ASIA Oral Statement, Item 6: UPR Plenary on Sri Lanka, 15 March 2013, http://www.forum‐asia.org/?p=15984
[2]People’s Alliance for Right to Land (PARL), “Implementation of LLRC Recommendations on Land Issues in the North and East”,

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