Sri Lanka appeared before the United Nations Universal Periodic Review last week – a four yearly stock-take of their human rights record. You can see the video here:

Sri Lanka’s response to the process was extraordinarily belligerent. Sri Lanka rejected 100 of the 210 recommendations made to it. In the previous 206 reviews no country has ever rejected more than 95. As well as being the largest absolute number of recommendations ever rejected outright this is also the fourth highest proportion of recommendations rejected.*

Meanwhile further research suggests that there can be little hope for the implementation of those recommendations that they did accept. On 52 out of 71 pledges the Government of Sri Lanka accepted last time, they have done nothing whatsoever. So on past form we can expect the Government of Sri Lanka to completely fail to deliver on 73% of the pledges they made this time round.**

Our comprehensive report (available here) analyses each of Sri Lanka’s pledges from 2008 in detail. The Government of Sri Lanka claimed to have delivered fully on 12 of their 71 pledges but we could only find this to be true in four cases. They euphemistically described progress towards the remaining recommendations as “ongoing”, but we could only find evidence of any progress in 15 cases.


* Burma rejected 95 recommendations in January 2011 while leaving the status of a further 25 recommendations unclear. In December 2009 the DPRK rejected 50 recommendations outright and “noted” a further 117 – a term the precise meaning of which has never been clarified. Only San Marino (61% in February 2010), Burma (58% in January 2011) and China (56% in February 2009) have rejected a greater proportion of recommendations. A further 16 nations have accepted a smaller proportion of recommendations but recommendations for which the response is unclear or pending maintain Sri Lanka’s fourth place in terms of outright rejections. For more details see UPR Info and check out this spreadsheet.

Notable rejected recommendations include:

129.27 Enact urgent legislative amendments to the Penal Code to ensure that the rights of women from all religious and ethnic communities are safeguarded (New Zealand)

129.96 Take immediate steps to prevent attacks on the human rights defenders and media and take action to investigate such acts (Slovenia);

129.85 Safeguard the independence of its judiciary (Slovakia);

129.80 Make every effort to ensure that those responsible for crimes against children, and in particularly concerning the recruitment of child soldiers, are brought to justice as soon as possible (Sweden)

129.76 End impunity for human rights violations and fulfill legal obligations regarding accountability (USA)

129.71 Take action to reduce and eliminate all cases of abductions and disappearances (Australia)

129.66 Take action to reduce and eliminate all cases of abuse, torture or mistreatment by police and security forces (Australia)

129.65 Publish the names and places of detention of all the imprisoned persons (France)

129.60 Take further steps to ensure more participation of Sri Lankan Muslims in the reconciliation process and national efforts of economic, social, and cultural integration (Egypt)

129.28 Fully implement the recommendations of the LLRC, in particular steps to ensure independent and effective investigations into all allegations of serious human rights violations , in the context of Sri Lanka’s civil war and its aftermath (Austria)

129.25 Adopt legislation on appointments that would ensure the independence of the Human Rights Commission (New Zealand)

** For comparison a study by UPR Info of 66 countries showed that an average of 40% of recommendations are typically wholly or partly implemented by the half way point in a UPR cycle. After a full cycle Sri Lanka had only made any measurable process on 27% of recommendations.

Read the report