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Australian Statement for the Interactive Dialogue with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Sri Lanka, 24 February 2021

Human Rights Council – 46th session

Interactive Dialogue with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Sri Lanka

24 February 2021

Australian Statement

Australia thanks the High Commissioner for her comprehensive report.

We note Sri Lanka’s stated commitment to continue measures of peacebuilding, reparation, and development. We acknowledge progress made by the Office of Missing Persons and the Office of Reparations and encourage the ongoing and independent operations of these and other key institutions.

We recognise the High Commissioner’s concerns regarding the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, including the need for: accountability measures that acknowledge past and ongoing grievances; protection of the right to freedom of religion or belief (including in responses to COVID-19, such as forced cremations); and an environment in which civil society, including human rights defenders and journalists, can play their vital roles. We encourage Sri Lanka to ensure its legal framework, including counter-terrorism legislation, is in line with international standards.

Noting the importance of a preventative approach, we support the report’s recommendation that Sri Lanka continue to work with UN human rights mechanisms. This includes the facilitation of technical assistance in implementing the recommendations of such mechanisms and working with the Council-mandated process on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights.

Australia has been a longstanding partner in Sri Lanka’s reconciliation efforts. We are committed to supporting Sri Lanka through constructive and practical engagement to implement its transitional justice commitments and international human rights obligations.

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