Sri Lanka Rejects External Interference
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
Responding to High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s oral update on Sri Lanka, Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday (14) said the Government rejects the proposal for external initiatives, purportedly established by Resolution 46/1 (on accountability), while the domestic processes are vigorously addressing the relevant matters. “An external initiative will polarise the society, as we experienced with Resolution 30/1 and the Council must adhere to its founding principles,” he said.
He underlined that the external initiatives embarked upon, without the cooperation of the country concerned, cannot achieve their stated goals and will be subject to politicisation. Further, 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, he added.
The Human Rights Council’s 48th Regular Session in Geneva on the 13th reiterated that Sri Lanka adhere to the resolution and the commitment the Government undertook. Prof. Peiris also noted the Commission of Inquiry (CoI), 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. The Foreign Minister further stressed that Sri Lanka is offering continued cooperation with this Council and the United Nations mandated human rights systems, in keeping with their constitution and international obligations, are voluntarily undertaken. He also said that the Government is committed to holding the Provincial Council elections at the earliest and recently, 16 LTTE cadres convicted of serious terrorist crimes were granted Presidential pardons. The success of post-conflict demining, reconstruction and resettlement programmes have contributed immensely to national reconciliation, he added.
He also emphasised that despite the daily challenges of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) as its core function, is finalising the list of missing persons in collaboration with other agencies; the Office for Reparations (OR) has processed 3,775 claims this year; the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR) continues its eight-point action plan; 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 and 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 of Ministers at the end of this month. 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. “Sri Lanka continues to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the appalling Easter Sunday 2019 terrorist attack, 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,” he said.
He pointed out that the Government is 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.