First US-sponsored resolution on SL to be taken up in Geneva

First US-sponsored resolution on SL to be taken up in Geneva

Written by Staff Writer

20 Sep, 2015 | 8:16 pm

The first draft of the US-sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka, entitled Promoting Reconciliation, Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka will be taken up at the first informal sessions on the resolution at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday September 21.

Reports from Geneva say that copies of the US draft resolution were distributed among the delegates who are taking part in the UNHRC sessions in Geneva.

The draft resolution contains 26 operative paragraphs.

The resolution takes note of the new Government of Sri Lanka’s commitment to undertaking a comprehensive approach to transitional justice, incorporating the full range of judicial and non-judicial measures.

The draft resolution also welcomes the proposal by the Government of Sri Lanka to establish a Commission for Truth, Justice, Reconciliation, and Non Recurrence, an Office of Missing Persons, and an Office for Reparations.

It goes on to say that it welcomes the Government of Sri Lanka’s recent passage of an updated Witness and Victim Protection Law, and urges the Government of Sri Lanka to strengthen these essential protections by making specific accommodations to effectively protect witnesses and victims participating in transitional justice processes.

The resolution underscores the importance of the government taking additional steps on return of land to its rightful civilian owners, ending of military involvement in civilian activities, the resumption of livelihoods and the restoration of normality to civilian life.

The resolution reiterates the call upon the Government of Sri Lanka to implement effectively, the constructive recommendations made in the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.

The resolution also urges the Government of Sri Lanka to investigate all alleged attacks by individuals and groups on journalists, human rights defenders, members of religious minority groups and other members of civil society and to hold perpetrators of such attacks to account and to take steps to prevent such attacks in the future.

The resolution requests the Office of the High Commissioner to assess and verify the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and to present an oral update to the Human Rights Council at its 33rd session, and a comprehensive report followed by discussion on the implementation of the present resolution at its 34th session.

To learn more on Monday’s proceedings in Geneva, Switzerland, we contacted Senior Journalist Sunanda Deshapriya. Speaking on the subject, Deshapriya said:

” This time there won’t be a vote. It has to be a consensus resolution because majority of the members of the council do not want a vote against Sri Lanka. No country is going to ask for a vote. In that sense, this year, because the Sri Lankan government has changed and Government has shown a commitment to democratic reform,  to some extent the attitude towards the Sri Lankan government has changed drastically in the council. Majority of the council do not want to be seen as putting too much pressure on the New Government which is trying to reform the Sri Lankan political system. In this situation, the SL government has a very strong leverage, not like last years, and since its going to be a consensual resolution, what the Sri Lankan government is going to accept is will be the bottom line of the resolution. So far, we have not seen a direct commitment from any side. Since its a draft resolution the language can be changed. Tomorrow is the informal session; we will see what country takes what position. ”

Addressing an event in Matara, State Minister of Finance Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena stressed that President Maithripala Sirisena’s scheduled visit to the United States will help strengthen ties with the international community.

State Minister of Finance Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena noted that Maithripala Sirisena, as the Chairman of the SLFP and the Alliance, has said that they have achieved many victories.

He also said that instead of sacrificing those who were involved in the war, they have been able to now clear their names adding that this report from Geneva does not contain any of those names and it does not mention Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabaya Rajapaksa nor any other military leader.

Speaking at a meeting in Trincomalee Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan was also optimistic that human rights will be assured in the country.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Leader said:

” There was a 30 year long war. We cannot forget that. There were several justifiable reasons for that war to begin. Several bad things took place. The youth were rejected, they did not have employment opportunities. They were not given equal opportunities when enrolling for universities. These were the reasons for the war to begin. But we do not want another war in the country. None of us are in favour of it. If it does happen, the country would be greatly affected. We completely reject a war. Peace, rule of law, equality and human rights must be safeguarded in this country. Everyone in this country must live in equality. A suitable decision must be taken. Singapore is one of the most developed and richest nations in the world because they took appropriate decisions. Sri Lanka too must follow this path because it has all the resources to reach that potential. The government as well as the people of this country have the responsibility to use these resources. These things will be protected under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena. We have trust in him that we will resolve the country’s national problem in a fair and equal manner.  

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