Holding UNHRC sessions online: Sri Lanka Objects
By W.K. Prasad Manju
Several countries, including Sri Lanka, have strongly objected to the decision by the Organising Committee of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland, to hold the UNHRC sessions online, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dinesh Gunawardena, told Ceylon Today.
He added the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had decided to hold the sessions online, despite notifications from several countries that it will not be successful when there is a possibility of holding it safely amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, he said he and the Sri Lankan delegation to the sessions, which begin on the 23 February, would be connected online from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombo and that he would address the conference on the 23 or 24 February on behalf of Sri Lanka.
The Minister also said Sri Lanka is ready to comment on any criticism of Sri Lanka that may arise and that many countries have informed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa that they will support Sri Lanka at the UNHRC.
He also said while Sri Lanka is among the countries that have successfully managed COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has already taken steps to reject the report prepared by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which included 16 misrepresentations aimed at discrediting Sri Lanka.
Gunawardena further said the Government is ready at any time to respond to the false allegations that may be levelled against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC and that religious leaders, scholars, lawyers and senior officials of the foreign missions had already made representations to the Government.
He said on the advice of the President and the Prime Minister, he had discussed the UNHRC conference with the Ambassadors and High Commissioners to Sri Lanka of several countries and that the majority of them were willing to support Sri Lanka.