Sri Lanka looks to defend itself against UNHRC attack in Geneva

Colombo, Feb 20 (TruthDive): Sri Lanka is all set to participate in the 19th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva next week, in the wake of rising thought that the UN will pass a motion against Sri Lanka.

The ministerial delegation led by the External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris includes Plantation Minister and President’s Special Human Rights Envoy Mahinda Samarasinghe, Ministers Nimal Siripala De Silva and Anura Priyadarshana Yapa and several officials from the Attorney General’s department.

Sri Lanka is gearing up to face a resolution that is to be presented against the country at the UNHRC sessions scheduled to begin on February 27 and the high level delegation is ready to face any challenges at the sessions, the government has said.

The resolution to be presented at the UNHRC observes that Sri Lanka has failed to put into practice the settlement measures suggested by the country’s own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and calls for Sri Lanka to take more tangible actions towards settlement and especially addressing the accountability issue and implementing the recommendations put forward by the LLRC.

A member of the Sri Lankan delegation, Mohan Pieris said, “LLRC recommendations are being systematically implemented under two high level committees appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, one an Inter -Ministerial Committee and the other a Cabinet Sub-committee. Nobody can point fingers at Sri Lanka with reason that there was reluctance as such on the part of the government to implement LLRC recommendations.”

“LLRC recommendations are being implemented not to please other nations. It is being implemented as a part of the country’s policy to bring the nation under one banner as one Sri Lanka,” Peiris pointed out.

The international community, while lauding recommendations made by the LLRC has also found several gaps in the Commission’s efforts. The LLRC’s final report has been criticized by many, including the UK, for not properly addressing the issue of accountability for the alleged war crimes.

On the other side, the country’s main opposition, UNP has put together a 10-page report in response to the LLRC’s final report, with some vicious observations. It blamed the LLRC of failing to “adequately inquire” into the reasons why the government failed to properly estimate the number of persons who would be confined to camps and trapped in no-fire zones.

UNP has raised two key issues. One is, the toll of those killed or injured is unclear. Second is to express uncertainty over the number of civilians who were trapped in the No-Fire-Zone during the final stages of the separatist war in May 2009. The UNP has declared that there is “a lack of specific and factual findings” in crucial areas which were very much a part of the Commission.

British High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, John Rankin, said,” The UK genuinely desired to see reconciliation effected for the good of all Sri Lankans. An inclusive political solution, which addresses the underlying causes of the conflict, would further advance peace.” He also noted the implementation of the LLRC’s recommendations “is the real test of Sri Lanka’s progress.”

The United States has said that it will support the resolution to pressure the Sri Lankan government to take prompt measures to implement the LLRC recommendations and address the accountability issues.

The members of the Sri Lankan delegation are to engage in a dialogue with members of the foreign ambassadorial community during the period of the sessions and they are scheduled to meet representatives of especially the Sri Lanka-friendly countries such as China, Cuba and Russia.

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