The UN’s deputy rights chief Nada al-Nashif says that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has repeatedly called for an independent international investigation into the Easter Sunday terror attacks of 2019.
Delivering the oral report on Sri Lanka at the first meeting of the 54th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council currently ongoing in Geneva, the Deputy High Commissioner of Human Rights revealed that the High Commissioner of Human Rights has repeatedly recommended that a follow-up investigation be conducted by the Government of Sri Lanka into the series of bombings.
She further revealed that they pressed for the investigation to be both independent and transparent, with international assistance and the full participation of victims and their representatives.
Meanwhile, speaking on the accountability project established by the Council in Sri Lanka, Al-Nashif further stated that the project is receiving a steady increase in requests from competent state authorities, including in relation to 10 named individuals.
The project was established to collect, consolidate, analyse and preserve information and evidence pertaining to accountability claims, and provide support to relevant judicial and other proceedings including those in other member states with competent jurisdiction, she said in this regard.
Highlighting the fact that accountability remains central to secure Sri Lanka’s present and its future, Al-Nashif stressed that the accountability project, the council and its member states can play an important and complementary role in advancing accountability within the country, further adding that her office remains committed to ensuring reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka.
Addressing Sri Lanka’s recent economic crisis, Al-Nashif regretfully noted that the transformation that was hoped for to address longstanding challenges has still not materialized, albeit one year having passed since the anti-government protests.
“The country continues to deal with the aftermath of the deep economic crises of 2022, and the current stresses in the global economy”, she said emphasising that the crisis affected the poor and marginalized community the most, doubling the island’s poverty rates from 13% in 2021 to 25% in 2022.
Thus, she urged that the international community, including international financial institutions, continue to support Sri Lanka’s economic recovery by providing the fiscal space required while simultaneously pressing for “genuine progress in governance, transparency and accountability”.
Presenting the annual report of the UNHCHR and report of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General, promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka, Al-Nashif emphasised that: “Truth-seeking alone will not suffice. It must also be accompanied by a clear commitment to accountability and the political will to implement far-reaching change”.