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Minister Baird Welcomes UN Resolution on Sri Lanka

March 21, 2013 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:

“Canada welcomes the adoption of a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council that expresses growing international concern over Sri Lanka’s ongoing failure to address serious allegations of human rights violations that occurred in 2009. The Council also expressed concerns regarding threats to judicial independence and the rule of law, reports of enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and torture, and violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

“Canada was proud to support this initiative. I am pleased that the UN Human Rights Council is maintaining its focus on this gravely disturbing situation.

“The resolution reminds courageous individuals and their families, as well as victims of human rights violations, that they have not been forgotten by the international community. Canada will continue to pursue this issue—and other troubling recent developments like the weakening of judicial independence and the rule of law in Sri Lanka—through multilateral and other channels, including the Commonwealth.”

The Human Rights Council approved today’s resolution with 25 countries supporting the resolution, 13 countries voting against and 8 abstaining.

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A backgrounder follows.

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The resolution, led by the United States and co-sponsored by Canada, calls on Sri Lanka to deliver on its promises to investigate widespread allegations of serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights during the military campaign of May 2009.

This resolution calls on Sri Lankan leaders to work with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to expeditiously and effectively implement the recommendations made in the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission and to initiate credible actions to ensure justice, equity and accountability.

To date, Sri Lanka has not addressed the grave accusations of serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights that occurred toward the end of the conflict. Since the end of the conflict, Sri Lanka has taken steps that undermine freedom of expression, judicial independence and the rule of law, and has failed to address disturbing reports of ongoing human rights violations.

Canada and the international community continue to call upon the Government of Sri Lanka to conduct an independent and credible investigation into the serious violations of international law committed during the war.