A new resolution on Sri Lanka at the UNHRC

A new resolution on Sri Lanka at the UNHRC

Written by Staff Writer

13 Mar, 2019 | 9:06 pm

Colombo (News1st) – The Core Group on Sri Lanka including Canada, Germany, Montenegro, North Macedonia and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have tabled a resolution on Sri Lanka at the 40th Session of the UNHRC in Geneva. The resolution is titled A/HRC/40/L.1 ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’.

Reaffirming Human Rights Council resolutions 30/1 of 2015 and 34/1 of March 2017 on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka, the draft resolution 40/1 welcomes the positive engagement of the Government of Sri Lanka with the UN High Commissioner and the Office of the High Commissioner since October 2015.

The resolution says it recognizes the strong role played by Sri Lanka’s democratic institutions in the peaceful resolution of the political situation that arose in Sri Lanka from October to December 2018. It reads that it welcomes “the establishment of the Office on Missing Persons in September 2017 and the appointment of its Commissioners in February 2018 and the assumption of its work to fully implement its mandate.”

The resolution adds that it notes with appreciation “the return of some private land previously occupied by the military to civilian ownership while recalling repeated public commitments by the Government of Sri Lanka to release all private land occupied by the military, to enable local populations to resume livelihoods”

The resolution requests the Office of the High Commissioner to continue to assess progress on the implementation of its recommendations and other relevant processes related to reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka, and to present a written update to the Human Rights Council at its 43rd session, and a comprehensive report, followed by a discussion on the implementation of Council resolution 30/1, at its 46th session.

Sri Lanka is expected to co-sponsor the Resolution 40/1.

Meanwhile, a 5 member delegation is set to take wing to Geneva to attend 40th Session of the Human Rights Council. The delegation has been decided on, following consultations held with President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday by Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana.

This team will comprise of Tilak Marapana, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who will head the delegation, Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Dr. Suren Raghavan, Ravinatha Aryasinha and A. Nerin Pulle,

The Consideration of the Report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’ that was made public last week, will take place on the 20th March 2019, while the draft resolution on Sri Lanka on the same theme, which Sri Lanka has signed up to co-sponsor, is scheduled to be taken up on 21 March 2019.

According to the Ministry of foreign affairs, the delegation will also be joined by Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva A.L.A. Azeez, Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Samantha Jayasuriya, and other relevant officials of the Sri Lanka Permanent Mission in Geneva.

IN PARLIAMENT

The topic of the UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka came up in Parliament today. Speaking on the topic Leader of the House Minister Lakshman Kiriella, referring to the UN high commissioners report, stated that the Government has been praised on 11 instances in the report and stated that there is no need to change the resolutions on the country.

Kiriella charged that when students were murdered in Trincomalee, ministers of the former regime called the parents of the deceased students. He noted that Mahinda Rajapaksa and his ministers were not able to step foot in the UNHRC due to their actions.  He claimed that MP Mahinda Samarasinghe, who was a minister in the former administration, represented Sri Lanka at the UNHRC for over a decade and during that time multiple resolutions were brought against the country. Kiriella also stated that issues arise when the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary attempt to over-reach.

TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran speaking in Parliament questioned the President’s decision to dispatch a 3 member delegation representing him to Geneva and statements that had been made regarding commitments to existing resolutions. The MP questioned whether members of the opposition can be dispatched to such missions?

The MP also spoke about the judiciary and claimed that the local judiciary cannot be expected to remain independent when matters relating to Sri Lanka and an armed rebel group is taken up for consideration.

MP Mahinda Samarasinghe speaking up noted that the President has the authority to dispatch anyone he wants to Geneva as his special representative and noted that MP Sumanthiran was wrong to question this. Samarasinghe noted that a meeting was held on Tuesday (March 12) on the issues surrounding the UNHRC and during this meeting, he suggested that delegation to the UNHRC should be led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Samarasinghe claimed that he had withdrawn his name from the Geneva delegation deliberately but added that they will never be able to resolve anything by cornering the President.

IN GENEVA

Leader of the Tamil National People’s front Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam spoke during the 40th Regular session of the UNHRC today. In his address, he claimed that the President, PM and the Government of Sri Lanka has consistently rejected calls for criminal justice accountability since the passing of resolution 30/1.

He noted that the UNHRC is not going to be able to deliver on criminal justice for the “predominantly Tamil victims” adding that pointing to other matters on which the Government has shown token action as progress, and perpetuate the facade of commitment of Sri Lanka is not only dishonest but also sinister.

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