Friday, 10 March 2017 01:27

NPC Contributes To Geneva Dialogue On Promoting Reconciliation Featured

Reflecting the positive changes in relations between civil society and the government in the past two years in relation to the reconciliation process, NPC Executive Director Dr Jehan Perera was invited by the Sri Lankan government to join the official delegation to Geneva to represent a civil society point of view at side events during the UN Human Rights Council sessions.

He was part of the team that spoke at a side event hosted by the Sri Lankan government, which was attended by the Human Rights community, Sri Lankan Diaspora, and by diplomats.

He said that as a civil society organization, NPC was committed to all four pillars of transitional justice (i.e. truth, accountability, reparation and institutional reforms) but that the political context had to be kept in mind, and priority needed to given to what could be done now.

Dr Perera pointed out that victims needed to receive immediate relief in the north and east, and this had been slow in coming, but that more time also needs to be given to the government due to problems of coalition government and getting the people's support in the south.

He also had the opportunity to sit in at meetings of the government delegation with the UN Secretary General, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and to an official dinner with ambassadors.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in his report to the Council that the slow pace of transitional justice in Sri Lanka and the lack of a comprehensive strategy to address accountability for past crimes risked derailing the momentum towards lasting peace, reconciliation and stability.

“Seventeen months ago, when we published a detailed report on the grave human rights violations committed during the conflict in Sri Lanka, I urged the Government and all the people of Sri Lanka to ensure that this historic opportunity for truly fundamental change should not be squandered,” he said.

He noted that in many ways, Sri Lanka appears to be turning a corner on the promotion and protection of human rights, but he stressed that hard-won gains could prove illusory if they are not tethered to a comprehensive, robust strategy.

“This critical opportunity in Sri Lankan history cannot be missed,” he said, urging the government and people of Sri Lanka once again to prioritize justice alongside reconciliation to ensure that the horrors of the past are firmly dealt with, never to recur.

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