Statement on report of OHCHR on promoting reconciliation, accountability & human rights in Sri Lanka. Delivered by UK Ambassador to the WTO & UN Simon Manley.

Simon Manley CMG

Thank you Madam Vice President, 

Deputy-High Commissioner, let me thank you for your report and update. 

The UK welcomes Sri Lanka’s initial commitments to implement devolution in line with the constitution, to address land issues, and to advance governance legislation. It is important that these commitments are matched by tangible progress on the ground. 

We also note longstanding commitments to replace the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and urge the Government to ensure terrorism legislation is consistent with Sri Lanka’s international obligations. We encourage too the further release of long-term detainees. 

We call on Sri Lanka to safeguard the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and to freedom of expression. The right to freedom of religion or belief must be respected, and communities must be allowed to remember their loved ones.

The discovery of another mass grave [in Mullaitivu] highlights the urgent need for an adequately resourced, independent, and transparent approach to dealing with the past. 

Justice, accountability, and reconciliation are at the heart of our approach and we hope in Sri Lankans. We acknowledge commitments to make progress in transitional justice and urge Sri Lanka to ensure any process carries the support of victim communities, builds upon past recommendations, and meets international standards. 

Thank you.

Published 11 September 2023