India’s stand on Human Rights violation in Sri Lanka

Synopsis: India maintained balance between the diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka and its support to Tamil minority people in the country.


The previous government in Sri Lanka had made some commitments to the UNHRC. The commitments include constructive engagement with the international community on the Human Rights violation in Sri Lanka. Further, the government also committed to provide a consensual resolution to the problem of the Tamil people. But the current government of Sri Lanka withdrew from the commitments.

So, the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council(UNHRC) adopted a resolution titled “Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka”.

But, India abstains from the UNHRC resolution against Sri Lanka. This is done to indicate the following things.

  1. India attempted to preserve its diplomatic space. Further, India wants to contain persistent Chinese influence in Sri Lanka.
  2. At the same time, India is also maintaining its support for the Tamil minority to achieve equality, justice, dignity and peace.
The Present Status of the Human Rights violation in Sri Lanka:

The UN High Commissioner’s report has raised certain concerns on the following issues in Sri Lanka. They are, 

  1. Increasing militarization in Sri Lanka
  2. Intensified surveillance against rights defenders and NGOs,
  3. Interference with trials in certain symbolic cases from the past
  4. The dangerous anti-minority rhetoric among other sections of people.
What has been India’s stance on the Human Rights violation?
  • India has never supported externally mandated investigative mechanisms. India voted in favour of a credible investigation into human rights violation in 2012. But India mentioned the importance of Sri Lanka’s acceptance to solve the human rights dispute.
  • India has emphasised meaningful decentralization to meet Tamil aspirations. Also, India demanded the unity and integrity of Sri Lanka. 
  • India’s concerns in Sri Lanka have been different from the rest of the international community. India is well-informed by a sense of the long-term well-being of the Tamils. Hence, India stresses devolution rather than accountability.
  • India has its own limitations in expressing disappointment over Sri Lanka’s stand on Human Rights violation. Reasons such as the Chinese presence in the Sri Lankan region can be one of them.
  • India did not change its position on tactical neutrality on the Human rights violation in Sri Lanka. When practicality and principle needed an equal measure, the Centre has chosen non-participation as an easy way out. This is a welcome move.

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