IC should no longer accept empty promises by Sri Lanka: Amnesty says after UPR session

“Sri Lanka’s promises on human rights should no longer be accepted by the international community, Amnesty International said in a press statement after the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Thursday. “Sri Lanka has been making empty promises about human rights for decades. This was made clear by a number of countries which questioned Sri Lanka’s lack of progress in ending human rights violations during the review,” said Yolanda Foster, Amnesty International’s expert on Sri Lanka.

“Three years after the end of the civil war, the government continues to stifle dissent through threats and harassment, and has failed to take steps to end enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions,” Ms Foster told Amnesty.

“Four years after the UN’s first review of human rights in Sri Lanka, there has been virtually no progress – as shown today – on any of the commitments the government made to end arbitrary detentions,” said Foster.

The UN examines the human rights situation in each member state every four and a half years, and Sri Lanka has yet to follow up on important commitments made during its first UPR in 2008 when it was engaged in war with the LTTE.

Amnesty International continues to receive reports of torture and resultant deaths in custody, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions.

The findings of a 2007 Presidential Commission of Inquiry into both cases have yet to be released, the statement further said.

“The persistent lack of justice in these cases is shocking and flies in the face of repeated promises by the government for the past six years that it would investigate them properly. Victims’ families won’t believe the government until some practical action is taken. As a very basic first step the 2007 commission’s findings should be made public,” Ms Foster said.

In the lead up to this UPR, Sri Lanka’s Attorney General claimed to have directed the police to investigate the two cases.

“Why did it toke so long for the Sri Lankan authorities to order an investigation into cases this grave, and what will happen to the police inquiry when international interest sparked by the UPR dies down?,” Foster questioned.

After Sri Lanka’s UPR session in Geneva on Thursday, the UPR panel is set to release its full report on Monday 5 November 2012.

The Human Rights Council is set to formally adopt the outcome of the review at its March session in 2013.

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