SL rejects any external initiatives to establish accountability
Foreign Minister G. L. Peiris addressed the general debate at the 48th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland today (14).
He responded to the allegations levelled against Sri Lanka by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet during the session's oral update yesterday (13).
Reflecting on Sri Lanka’s freedom from LTTE terrorism 12 years ago, FM Peiris said peace, security and stability was restored in the country while it held firm to democratic traditions. Elections were held at regular intervals with high levels of voter participation, most recently at the 2019 Presidential and 2020 Parliamentary polls.
He added that the government is committed to holding the Provincial Council elections at the earliest.
“We are dealing with post-conflict recovery from the perspective of healing,” he said, recalling that most recently, 16 LTTE cadres convicted of serious terrorist crimes were granted Presidential pardons.
He claimed that the success of post-conflict demining, reconstruction and resettlement programs has contributed immensely to national reconciliation.
Peiris proceeded to highlight the progress made in domestic processes despite challenges faced by the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) as its core function, is finalizing the list of missing persons in collaboration with other agencies while the Office for Reparations (OR) has processed 3775 claims this year. The Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR) continues its 8 point action plan and the National Human Rights Commission is carrying on its mandate.
A steering committee on SDG 16 is working towards enhancing peace, justice and strong institutions.
Further, a Cabinet Sub Committee was appointed to revisit the PTA and to bring it in line with international norms and best practices. A report will be submitted to the Cabinet at the end of this month.
Addressing the concerns raised regarding the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), he said that an Advisory Board was appointed to look into cases of detention under the PTA and to make recommendations to deal with such cases expeditiously. Speedy disposal of cases under the PTA is also taking place.
A Commission of Inquiry headed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court was established to address issues on accountability and missing persons and to revisit recommendations by previous Commissions.
“The CoI submitted its Interim report to the President. The final report will be submitted within the next six months.”
“We are maintaining vigorous engagement with civil society to obtain their insights and to harness their support in achieving reconciliation and development,” the FM said.
He added that Sri Lanka is continuing to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the appalling terrorist attack on Easter Sunday in 2019 complying with due process of law in all respects.
“As always, we will remain vigilant in combatting terrorism and protecting Sri Lankans of all religions.”
“We reject the proposal for any external initiatives purportedly established by Resolution 46/1 while domestic processes are vigorously addressing the relevant matters.”
Peiris asserted that this will polarize our society, as experienced with Resolution 30/1.
He pointed out that the Council must adhere to its founding principles.
“The External initiatives embarked upon without the cooperation of the country concerned cannot achieve their stated goals, and will be subject to politicization.”
He said that the resources expended on this initiative are unwarranted, especially when they are urgently needed for humanitarian and other constructive purposes in many parts of the world.
Peiris noted that it is a government’s basic duty to ensure the uninterrupted supply of commodities essential to the life of the community under the current and pressing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are open in acknowledging our challenges and as a responsible and democratic government, we are committed to achieving tangible progress on the entire range of issues relating to accountability, reconciliation, human rights, peace and sustainable development.”