The U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed a resolution Thursday strongly criticizing Sri Lanka for failing to address continued rights violations in the country after the civil war with ethnic Tamil rebels were marked by alleged crimes committed by government forces.
The resolution was passed with 25 of 46 member countries voting in favor, 13 against and with eight abstentions, the BBC reported. The strongly worded resolution, albeit watered down compared to earlier drafts, called on Colombo “to conduct an independent and credible investigation” of crimes allegedly committed by government forces against the minority Tamil community in the final five months of its quarter century old civil war against the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) militants, which ended in 2009.
Amnesty International criticized the resolution saying it failed to establish an independent and international investigation into alleged crimes under international law.
“It is clear that the Sri Lankan government is unwilling and unable to investigate these events itself, so an international probe is the only way to obtain the truth and justice necessary for genuine reconciliation,” Yolanda Foster, Amnesty International’s Sri Lanka expert said in a statement.
During the council's proceedings, Sri Lanka's representative spoke out against the resolution, arguing that it would endanger an ongoing reconciliation process.
India voted in favor of the resolution as it did last year. The resolution has threatened the stability of India’s coalition government as a key regional ally pulled out of the alliance Tuesday in protest against New Delhi’s position on the resolution.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), based in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, demanded India’s Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to introduce a stronger language into the resolution, including the use of the word "genocide,” to denote the alleged atrocities committed by the Sri Lankan forces against Sri Lanka’s ethnic Tamil population.
A U.N. panel in 2011 found that 40,000 people, mainly Tamil civilians, died in the final stages of fighting.
The U.S. welcomed the passage of the resolution, saying it encourages Colombo to credibly investigate allegations of human rights violations.
“Today’s vote sends a clear message that the international community is committed to working with the Government of Sri Lanka to promote greater peace, stability, and prosperity for all of the people of Sri Lanka,” Caitlin Hayden, spokesperson of the National Security Council, said in a statement Thursday.
The U.S., other governments and rights groups say Sri Lanka’s own investigations into the alleged war crimes were inadequate.
Pakistan was among 13 countries that voted against the resolution, describing it as politicized.