(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The Sri Lankan Government does not agree in full with the latest report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Foreign Affairs Minister Thilak Marapana told Parliament yesterday.
The minister, responding to a question raised by Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, said that the Government would express its observations on the report of the OHCHR when it is taken up for debate on March 20 in Geneva.
“The draft Resolution before the UNHRC and the report of the OHCHR are two different things. Do not mix up the two,” he said.
“We do not endorse everything stated in the OHCHR report. For example, it says the Government has not returned the North and East lands used by the military. About 90 percent of those lands have been returned to the original occupants. Likewise, it contains several points that we cannot agree. We can raise those concerns,” he said.
The minister explained that the draft Resolution before the UNHRC is to get another two years’ time to complete the undertakings mentioned in the 30/1 UNHRC Resolution passed in 2015.
“This is as same as the 2017 UNHRC Resolution where we extended the time till 2019. The wording of the Resolution is the same, the only difference is that we have added the progress achieved during the past two years into it,” Marapana said.
Minister Marapana observed that the Government through the 2015 UNHRC resolution reinforced the independence and sovereignty of the country and paved the way to resolve the country’s problems through a domestic mechanism.
“The Government has never done anything detrimental to the country, the Tri-Forces and the people. We have never passed any law detrimental to the fundamental rights of the citizens. We could regain the international reputation of the country and thereby lay the foundation for long term economic development in cooperation with the European Union, Millennium Challenge Corporation and all other developed countries. We could send our armed forces to the UN Peace Keeping Missions and to internationally-recognized foreign training programmes. Several countries came forward to donate vessels to strengthen the Navy fleet. Prior to 2015, we did not have such opportunities,” he commented.
“We could ensure the people’s human rights and rule of law in the country. In that way we could uphold the dignity of the citizens and the tri-forces. The Government is further committed to achieve reconciliation and development to usher in a prosperous future to all citizens,” he added.
Marapana also observed that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa through the 2009 UNHRC Resolution agreed to find a political solution to the national question by implementing the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. He added that the joint statement by Rajapaksa and former UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon in May 2009 agreed on several measures to achieve reconciliation and these were also included into the 2009 UNHRC resolution.
“The subsequent UNHRC Resolutions against Sri Lanka in 2012, 2013 and 2014 were due to the Government’s failure to keep to those undertakings and non-implementation of the LLRC recommendations. As a result of the international inquiry in 2014, the international community was to impose economic sanctions and take various other adverse international steps against Sri Lanka in 2015, but we could avoid those adverse impacts after the Presidential Elections as we undertook to ensure human rights of the people through a domestic mechanism,” he explained.
Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa raising a question under the Standing Order 27 (2) asked the Government to withdraw from the 30/1 UNHRC Resolution which Sri Lanka co-sponsored in 2015. He observed that the President and the Prime Minister have contradictory positions with regard to the UNHRC. He claimed that the new Resolution to be adopted binds Sri Lanka to continue the undertakings in the 2015 Resolution which was prepared based on false information in the Darusman report.
The former President said that his stance was that there were zero casualties by Sri Lankan armed forces during the war. He said that British Parliamentarian Lord Naseby has also countered false information on the human causalities in the last stages of the war. Accusing that the report before the UNHRC is an attempt of international intervention belittling the judicial system of Sri Lanka, he urged the Government to take prompt action to stop it.