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Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Thursday, 1 November 2012 (afternoon)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is intended for use of the information media and is not an official record. The note provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review and does not cover all points addressed. An official summary of the meeting can be found in the Working Group report.)

State under review

Sri Lanka
Represented by a 15-member delegation headed by Mr. Mahinda Samarasinghe, Minister of Plantation Industries, and Special envoy of the President on Human Rights

Documents

To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the Sri Lanka page of the UPR website

Troika *

Benin, India, Spain

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on the Sri Lanka page of the extranet)

  • Following the first UPR of Sri Lanka the Government formulated the National Action plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (NHRAP) addressing eight thematic areas – civpol and esc rights, women, child, labour, IDP and migrant worker rights, and the prevention of torture;
  • A working committee was established to respond to cases of disappearances and a Deputy Inspector General of Police appointed to conduct verifications of such cases;
  • In May 2012, the Cabinet of Minister decided that a Task Force, headed by the Secretary to the President would monitor the implementation of the LLRC [Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission]; In July, a matrix containing the National Plan of Action to implement the LLRC recommendations was approved setting out the main focus areas for implementation;
  • The implemented areas of the LLRC recommendations include, among others, a centralized database of missing persons, screening detainees to identify those with special needs, examination of cases of young ex-combatants, establishing a task force to develop and implement child tracing programme, and ensuring freedom of movement for media including in the North and East;
  • As of 22 October 2012, 11,012 persons, which included 594 LTTE child soldiers, have been rehabilitated and reintegrated into society;
  • As at the beginning of October the record of total resettlement was 501,194;
  • In terms of demining, as of 25 October 2012, about 98% of the areas identified for demining have been cleared and approximately 108 square kilometres of territory remains to be cleared;
  • A five-member Court of Inquiry was appointed on 2 January 2012 tasked with looking into the observations made by the LLRC in its report on civilian casualties during the final phase of the humanitarian operation and probe as regards Channel 4 video footage; the Court was investigating more than 50 incidents referred to in the LLRC report;
  • There has been a significant reduction of the military strength in the North since the end of the conflict and there was no intrusive military presence impacting on civilian life, in Jaffna or the Wanni;
  • Sri Lanka set up special Women’s Protection Units and Women’s Centres in IDP welfare centres were continuing to provide counselling; strict legal action has been taken to combat sexual violence;
  • In terms of the MDGs, Sri Lanka was on track to reach most of the indicators; among notable achievements were those in the area of equitable primary education, child and maternal mortality, access to safe drinking water and literacy;
  • The delegation responded to a number of questions pertaining to, among others things, the independence of the judiciary, reprisals against human rights defenders and accountability for past human rights abuses. 

Participants

In total 99 States participated in the dialogue: 37 HRC members and 61 observers  (Statements available on the Sri Lanka page of the extranet)

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • The setting up of the Task Force to monitor and implement the LLRC recommendations;
  • The launching of the National Human Rights Action Plan;
  • Efforts to resettle IDPs and progress made in normalising the situation in the country since 2009;
  • Steps taken to rehabilitate and reintegrate child soldiers;
  • Efforts to achieve the MDGs, particularly in the area of poverty reduction, primary education and child and maternal mortality;
  • The de-mining programme which has cleared over 90% of mined areas.

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • Steps to fully implement the recommendations of the LLRC;
  • Efforts to combat impunity in relation to the past conflict;
  • Measures to prevent torture and ill treatment, particularly in prisons and detention centres;
  • Respecting the independence of the judiciary;
  • Policies and programmes to ensure the protection of women and children;
  • Steps to protect the rights of human rights defenders and journalists.

Recommendations

States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Sri Lanka. These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • Implementing fully the recommendations of the LLRC and investigating fully and transparently alleged grave breaches of international humanitarian law during the conflict;
  • Strengthening of legislations to ensure transparency and non-impunity on all alleged enforced disappearances;
  • Continuing efforts to combat impunity in relation to the past conflict;
  • Developing a comprehensive policy with regard to all aspects of internal displacement, and creating a mechanism to address the cases of missing and detained;
  • Adopting further measures to prevent torture and ill treatment, particularly in prisons and detention centres;
  • Establishing a central register for all persons missing or in custody accessible to family members and legal representatives;
  • Adopting a national policy on the protection of human rights defenders and journalists in order to prevent harassment and intimidation;
  • Respecting the independence of the judiciary;
  • Intensifying policies and programmes to ensure the protection of women and children and ensuring that all acts of violence against women were criminalized;
  • Ensuring that those responsible for crimes against children, including recruitment of child solders, were brought to justice;
  • Extending an invitation to the Special Procedures;

Ratification of human rights instruments:  the 2nd OP to the ICCPR, the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, the Convention on enforced disappearances, the Rome Statute of the ICC, and the OPCAT.

 

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Sri Lanka is scheduled to take place on Monday, 5 November

  • The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR. 

Media contact: Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org

See also

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