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Sri Lanka and its positioning at UNHRC: A concise look

Colombo, Feb 26 (): The 22nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is scheduled in Geneva from February 25 – March 22,2013. This article aims at having a concise look of Sri Lanka’s positioning and stands to be undertaken by other countries over Sri Lanka at the UNHRC sessions.

Sri Lanka is readying itself to face the massive onslaught that is in the offing from countries like UK, Canada and the European Union who have expressed their support for the US-backed resolution against it.

A team of three senior Deputy Solicitors General from Sri Lanka will take part in the UNHRC sessions to respond to any queries on the investigations into the killing of five Tamil youth in Trincomalee and the killing of 17 aid workers of the French aid agency Action Against Hunger in Muttur in 2006.

Sri Lankan External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Rodney Perera has said that the Lankan delegation will present a report outlining the progress of the implementation of LLRC recommendations, the Army Court of Inquiry report, and a report on the progress of development activities in the North at the session.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has prepared a draft report on Sri Lanka that strongly criticizes the government for its slow progress on the areas of justice and reconciliation. This report has also reiterated her call for an independent and realistic international investigation into alleged violations of international human rights. This report is likely to be tabled at the UNHRC sessions on March 20. The Sri Lankan government has dubbed Ms Pillay’s report as ‘biased and unfair.’

The United States will sponsor a new resolution against Sri Lanka as a measure to force Sri Lanka to further the implementation of the reconciliation measures. The British government has voiced its support to the fresh resolution on Sri Lanka saying that though progress has been made, much remains to be done on reconciliation and accountability issues.

Indian Union minister V. Narayansamy has said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had assured that India will support the US-backed resolution against Sri Lanka’s war crimes at UNHRC. There was a huge furor among parties of Tamil Nadu after shocking pictures of slain LTTE chief Prabhakaran’s minor son, Balachandran with bullet-ridden chest emerged in the media, released by Channel 4.

Sri Lankan government spokesman and minister of media Keheliya Rambukwella said that Sri Lanka would tell India about the island’s achievements in the post-conflict phase and hopes to engage with India ahead of voting at UNHRC session. Rambukwella added that they will not be complaining but would tell them about their successes in rehabilitation, resettlement and progress in rebuilding infrastructure.

Sri Lankan diplomats are working to block a British-made 90-minute documentary, “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka,” that is planned to be screened at the UNHRC sessions saying the film contains “morphed and diabolical” material aimed at undermining the process of reconciliation attempts made by Sri Lanka.

Meantime, the Sri Lankan government will look to seek the support of several countries including China to seek immunity against the resolution to be brought against the country by the United States. It has also stressed that it has achieved considerable progress in implementing the LLRC recommendations and says it is ready to defend its record in response to the new resolution.

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