Sri Lanka has been given some breathing space in a new resolution tabled at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. 

The draft resolution, which was formally handed over to the Human Rights Council Secretariat on Wednesday, has been sponsored by the UK, US, Germany, Canada, Malawi, Montenegro and North Macedonia. 

The new draft titles “Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka” gives the Government more time to address human rights related issues. 

The draft text also requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to enhance its monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights in Sri Lanka, including on progress in reconciliation and accountability, and on the human rights impact of the economic crisis and corruption. 

The office has also been requested to present oral updates to the Human Rights Council at its fifty-third session and fifty-fifths sessions, and a written update at its fifty-fourth session and a comprehensive report that includes further options for advancing accountability at its fifty-seventh session in 2024, both to be discussed in the context of an interactive dialogue.

The resolution recognises the severe economic crisis which deteriorated in Sri Lanka since late 2021, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the profound impact that this has had on the people of Sri Lanka, including women-led households,  

It also recognises the recent efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka to address the ongoing economic crisis, and welcomes the staff-level agreement reached between the Government of Sri Lanka and the International Monetary Fund.  

The resolution acknowledges the Government’s stated commitment to constitutional reforms while stressing the importance of the independence of key commissions and institutions including the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, the Election Commission, the National Police Commission, the Judicial Service Commission, the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption and the judiciary,  

It also calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to fulfil its commitments on the devolution of political authority, which is integral to reconciliation and the full enjoyment of human rights by all members of its population.

The new resolution also expresses concern over the human rights developments since April 2022 including violence against and arrests of peaceful protestors, as well as violence against Government supporters, resulting in deaths, injuries, destruction and damage to houses of members of Parliament and stresses the importance of independent investigations into all attacks and for those found responsible to be held to account. 

The resolution has also sought to extend and reinforce the capacity of the Office of the High Commissioner to collect, consolidate, analyse and preserve information and evidence and to develop possible strategies for future accountability processes for gross violations of human rights or serious violations of international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka, to advocate for victims and survivors, and to support relevant judicial and other proceedings, including in Member States, with competent jurisdiction.