Address by Parliamentary Secretary Obhrai at the 25th Regular Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council

March 26, 2014 - Geneva, Switzerland

Check Against Delivery

We thank the High Commissioner for Human Rights [Navanethem Pillay] for her report [Promoting Reconciliation and Accountability in Sri Lanka].

Sri Lanka has endured a lengthy and grievous civil war, which left no community untouched. While progress has been made in reconstruction, meaningful progress on accountability and reconciliation is vital but has not been achieved.

Canada deeply regrets the unwillingness of the [Sri Lankan] government even to acknowledge the need for independent and credible investigations into all past violations of international humanitarian law and human rights or to take comprehensive action on all of the recommendations of its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.

Failure to address these issues of accountability reinforces the other troubling trends: continuing human rights violations, attacks on religious minorities, shrinkage of democratic space and access to justice.

Regrettably, domestic investigative mechanisms have not been independent or effective. Canada supports the report’s recommendation for an international inquiry mechanism to investigate all alleged violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, both during the conflict and since. We also support the continued active engagement of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

In addition, we are disappointed by the threats against those who met or attempted to meet with officials from international organizations during the visit of the High Commissioner. We urge the Government of Sri Lanka to engage constructively.

During my visit to Sri Lanka in November 2013, I heard repeatedly about the steady degradation of the rule of law and undermining of the judiciary and other independent institutions. We would be interested to hear your [High Commissioner Pillay’s] assessment of the situation.

Thank you.