The Sri Lankan Government has stalled on its key pledges to provide justice for conflict-related violations and to strengthen human rights protections, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said today in its 2018 World Report. It said the government took some steps in 2017 to reduce restrictions on speech and assembly, but there was little progress on transitional justice initiatives agreed to at the UN Human Rights Council in 2015. In the 643-page World Report, its 28th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. HRW South Asia Director Meenakshi Ganguly said victims of abuses who struggled for years seeking justice finally had a moment of hope two years ago when Sri Lanka pledged to the UN to take action.
“Since then, victims have received many words but little action. The government needs to put a timetable in place for meeting its pledges to the world and to the Sri Lankan people,” she said. While the government conducted national consultations on issues around the resolution, the HRW said the government has since failed to act on the recommendations. “In July 2017, the government announced that it would operationalize an Office on Missing Persons. But there was no meaningful progress on the other three justice mechanisms, most notably a judicial mechanism to prosecute those responsible on all sides for grave crimes committed during the country’s civil war,” it said. It said the government released many of those long detained under the PTA but offered no reparations or apologies to those arbitrarily held. “The government has yet to take meaningful steps to reform laws criminalizing same-sex relations. Muslim women campaigned for amendments to discriminatory marriage laws,” it said. UN member countries should urge the Sri Lankan Government to deliver on its commitments when Sri Lanka appear before the Human Rights Council in March 2018, for an interim report by the high commissioner for human rights.