Tamil Diaspora Organizations Applaud UNHRC Authorizing Office of the High Commissioner to Collect Evidence of Violations of Human Rights and Related Crimes in Sri Lanka

GENEVA, March 24, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — We, six Tamil diaspora organizations from around the world, which cooperate in advocacy on Tamil issues1, thank the Core Group of countries2, numerous Co-Sponsoring states, Human Rights Council member states and all the NGOs and others who worked hard on the passage of Resolution A/HRC/46/1 today in Geneva. 

Acknowledging the lack of accountability from domestic mechanisms in the 12 years since the war ended in Sri Lanka, we are particularly pleased member states recognized the importance of collecting, preserving, and analyzing evidence to advance accountability and decided to strengthen the capacity of the Office of the High Commissioner to do so.   We are pleased with the mandate given to the Office 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.  The resolution enables the use of processed evidence to be presented in any future international tribunals / judicial mechanisms.

We thank the Core Group for reflecting the suggestions from numerous Tamil and Muslim groups within and outside Sri Lanka to strengthen the resolution by adding the critical issues of political reform, the increased marginalization of the Tamils and Muslims, the collection of further evidence, and more frequent reporting. We regret that several conclusions and recommendations made by the High Commissioner in her January 27, 2021 report were not more strongly incorporated into the resolution, including exercising universal jurisdiction, targeted sanctions, and referral to existing international justice mechanisms.  We believe that the High Commissioner should also be reporting on “possible strategies for future accountability processes” to the UN General Assembly to allow appropriate further action.  

We thank Tamil and Muslim civil society and political figures in Sri Lanka who have worked hard to draw attention to human rights abuses and atrocity crimes, and advocated strongly for transitional justice for Sri Lanka at the Council, including through important joint letters and the P2P March ahead of this session.

We urge the Office of the High Commissioner to inquire into violations since at least the 1977-79 period when torture and disappearances under the Prevention of Terrorism Act began, along with the deliberate destruction of Tamil cultural heritage. Investigating atrocities over the wider time frame would allow a deeper understanding of the important issues which led up to the worst violence at the end of the war in 2009, and the ongoing systematic marginalization of Tamils and Muslims through discrimination, state-sponsored colonization of Tamil areas, pogroms and war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.  

For more information, contact:  

S. Seetharam
President – United States Tamil Action Group (USTAG)
(formerly USTPAC)
T: +1(202) 595 3123

Pregas Padayachee
Solidarity Group for Peace and Justice in Sri Lanka (SGPJSouth Africa)


V. Ravichandran
Irish Tamils Forum (ITF)
T: 00353 899592707


Sivan Ilangko, 
President, The Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC)
T: +1-416-240-0078 
Website: https://www.canadiantamilcongress.ca

V. Ravi Kumar
General Secretary, British Tamils Forum (BTF)
T: +44 (0) 7814 486087

M. Manokaran
Chairman – Australian Tamil Congress (ATC)
T: +61 300 660 629

1 Australian Tamil Congress, British Tamils Forum, Canadian Tamil Congress, Irish Tamils Forum, South Africa Solidarity Group & United States Tamil Action Group
2 Canada, Germany, Malawi, Montenegro, North Macedonia & the United Kingdom