Australian Senate backs war crimes probe in Sri Lanka
February 13, 2014 01:10 pm
As the international community prepares to vote at the March meeting of the United Nations General Assembly Human Rights Council on a war crimes investigation for Sri Lanka, the Australian Greens have moved a successful Senate motion calling for the Australian government to support the independent investigation.
“The Australian Senate has sent a powerful message to the UN and international community about supporting an international independent war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka,” Greens Leader Christine Milne said.
“This is a long awaited response to horrific allegations of war crimes and human rights abuses committed in Sri Lanka. New evidence from PIAC makes the investigation even more urgent.
“Prime Minister Tony Abbott must end his appeasement of the Sri Lankan government which is designed to bolster his cruel refugee policies here in Australia.”
Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, who recently visited Sri Lanka to review human rights said: “The world will be watching how Australia will be responding to this international call for a war crimes investigation. Today we have sent a clear message to Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
“Australia has co-sponsored the last two United Nations General Assembly Human Rights Council resolutions on Sri Lanka, and it is crucial that Australia does the same at the coming March meeting.
“The Greens have consistently called for a war crimes investigation and will continue to campaign strongly for one. We welcome Labor’s decision to now support this position.”
Motion: Independent war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka
Australian Green Party –
Moved by: Senators Lee Rhiannon, Claire Moore and Ursula Stephens
Move that the Senate -
1. Notes Australia’s cosponsorship of the 2012 United Nations General Assembly Human Rights Council resolution calling on the Sri Lankan Government to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission of Sri Lanka and to take credible and independent actions to ensure justice, equity, accountability and reconciliation for all Sri Lankans;
2. Notes Australia’s cosponsorship of the 2013 United Nations General Assembly Human Rights Council resolution expressing concern at continuing reports of violations of human rights in Sri Lanka, and reiterating the call upon the Government of Sri Lanka to implement the Commission’s recommendations and to fulfil its commitment to conduct an independent and credible investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law;
3. Notes continuing reports of violations of human rights in Sri Lanka, and international concerns about insufficient progress by the Government of Sri Lanka in addressing justice, reconciliation and accountability; and
4. Notes the forthcoming update to the Human Rights Council 24th session on the progress of the 2012 and 2013 resolutions.
5.Calls on the Australian Government to:
a. maintain Australia’s strong record of support for human rights at the 24th session of the Human Rights Council, including in relation to Sri Lanka; and
b. support the United States in its call for the “international community to establish an independent international accountability mechanism to evaluate reports of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other human rights violations committed by both sides during and after the war in Sri Lanka”;
c. cosponsor the United States resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council in March 2014 regarding Sri Lanka’s progress on accountability and human rights;
d. urge the Government of Sri Lanka to allow unimpeded access for media, international aid agencies, and human rights groups into all regions of the country, as well as to detention sites that may hold political and war prisoners;
e. urge the Government of Sri Lanka to end its media restrictions, including the obstacles to the flow of information in the North and East, and bring to justice those responsible for attacks on journalists and newspaper offices.