US Disappointed with India Abstaining at UNHRC on Sri Lanka Human Rights Abuses

Sri Lanka/Amnesty International

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Washington, DC – The United States today expressed disappointment on India abstaining from voting on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution which called for investigation into the human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.

Replying to a question raised by India America Today at the daily press briefing, Marie Harf, the State Department deputy spokesperson told journalists, “It is disappointing to us that India abstained from voting on this resolution when they voted yes for the last two years. We have made our disappointment known to Indian officials.”

The US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka was adopted during the 25th session of the council with members of the 47-nation body agreeing to set up the yearlong investigation, estimated to cost $1.46 million, based on the recommendation of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. The council with a majority of 11 votes approved the resolution authorizing Pillay’s office to launch “a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka.” The inquiry also sought to hold perpetrators accountable.

India for the first time abstained from voting while all previous three times- 2009, 2012 and 2013 – India voted in favor of the resolutions.

Harf added, “For the first time, this resolution requests a comprehensive investigation to be undertaken by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights into alleged violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes committed in Sri Lanka during the period covered by the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission report, which was 2002 to 2009. In addition, it requests that OHCR monitor, assess, report on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, including any relevant domestic processes dealing with reconciliation and accountability.”

Amnesty International earlier expressed concern at reports of enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, torture, threats to the rule of law, religious discrimination, and intimidation of civil society activists and journalists. The organization highlighted the cases of the sacking of the top judge in a process domestic court and a wave of hardline Buddhist attacks on Muslims and Christians.

A 2011 UN investigation reported it was possible up to 40,000 people had been killed in the final five months alone and concluded there was credible evidence of war crimes.

Contradicting the independent international evidence, the Sri Lankan government released its own estimate that about 9,000 people perished in those few months and its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) cleared the military of allegations that it deliberately attacked civilians.

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