Written by Tharushan Fernando
17 Jun, 2015 | 8:00 pm
Questions were raised at the press conference over the United Nations Human Rights Commission report on Sri Lanka, due in September, and on Sri Lanka’s internal investigation into alleged human rights violation.
At the conference, it was asked if the last government has seen issues related to the alleged human rights violations during the conflict, and if the present government did prolong or delay the report that was supposed to be submitted earlier this year to September. Questions were also raised on progress the present government has made regarding this report.
Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesperson, Mahishini Colonne, responded that the report will be submitted by the High Commissioner in September and the assumption is that the international community is aware of the changes that are happening in Sri Lanka.
She said it can be seen that there is a shift in the international community in the way they approach Sri Lanka, the way they respond to Sri Lanka and the way they engage with Sri Lanka, which is why it was also seen that secretary of state of the U.S. will be visiting Sri Lanka.
Colonne added that there is an assumption that all these things that are happening — the developments, the progress in the north and east as well as everywhere else in the country as a whole — would be taken into account by the international community when they make a decision in September.
In response to the question about how even though an assurance was given about the internal investigation, no tangible progress in terms of internal investigation regarding alleged human rights violations during the conflict have been seen, the Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson added that if one looks at the letter that the minister wrote to the High Commissioner on Feb, 13, 2015, it is possible to see that a lot of the undertakings have already been implemented.
She noted that even before the minister wrote the letter, he had already extended an invitation to the High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Sri Lanka, adding that in itself was a remarkable shift because it showed willingness to engage with him on addressing issues that were previously avoided.
She also noted that an invitation has been extended to the ‘Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances’ and that the dates for the visit have been agreed. She said a visit is expected in August and the special Rapporteur on the Promotion of Truth, Justice Reparation and Guarantees of Non Recurrence visited Sri Lanka. The purpose of this visit, she said, was to hold discussions with the minister; continue to remain engaged with him; and to continue to remain engaged with civil societies in and outside Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson pointed out that ministry is not aware of any visit to Sri Lanka by U.S. President Barack Obama.
She noted that it was heard what Minister Lakshman Kiriella the ministry is not aware of any plans for such a visit by the US President and is not aware of any timelines either. She said, however, that it is understood that there maybe a possibility that the president maybe visiting Asia towards the end of this year.
Colonne added that this is a possibility and if there is such a possibility, Sri Lanka would welcome the consideration of a visit because no U.S. President has ever visited Sri Lanka. She further reiterated that they are not aware of any plans for a visit at this time.
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