UN rights chief regrets Sri Lanka withdrawal from resolution

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA (AP) — The United Nations’ (UN) Human Rights Chief expressed regret over the Sri Lankan government’s decision to withdraw its co-sponsorship of a 2015 resolution backing an investigation into alleged human rights violations during the country’s civil war.

Michelle Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that the decision risks setting back efforts for postwar reconciliation.

“The fundamental problem remains that Sri Lanka has still not addressed impunity for past violations, nor undertaken the security sector reforms needed to address their drivers and enablers,” Bachelet said.

She said systemic problems with the criminal justice system remain an impediment to real justice.

Sri Lanka co-sponsored a resolution in 2015 along with 11 other countries, including the United States (US), Britain, Australia and Germany, calling for an investigation into the alleged rights violations by both government forces and the now-defeated ethnic Tamil rebels in the island’s civil war, which ended in 2009.

The resolution also called for providing answers on the fate of thousands who reportedly went missing in the war and obtaining the support of international prosecutors and judges in trials against alleged perpetrators.

The council has since given Sri Lanka two two-year extensions to implement the resolution.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on Wednesday announced the country’s formal withdrawal from the resolution.