US Secretary of State John Kerry who addressed the gathering at the High level segment today said that Sri Lanka is among the significant successes of the Council and added that opportunities for real change exist in Sri Lanka.
While stating that no other state has worked harder than the USA to promote human rights, he added that although the ‘wheels of justice may not turn as rapidly as all of us would wish, the foundation for establishing justice has been prepared.’
Meanwhile, Botswana Foreign Affairs and International Corporation Minister Pelonomi Venson Moitoi, congratulated Sri Lanka on the outcome of its Presidential election and expressed their willingness to work with the new government.
She said that it’s an opportunity to make further progress and further strengthen efforts towards democracy and resolve outstanding human rights issues.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera said that although the government has been able to achieve much during its 48 days in office, many more hurdles need to be overcome.
The Minister made these remarks a short while ago during the High Level segment of the 28th UNHRC sessions held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, where he said that obstacles including bureaucratic bottlenecks, entrenched attitudes resulting from the practices of the previous regime and extremist elements that attempt to derail the Government’s initiatives need to be grappled in working towards realizing the government’s pledges.
“For some of us, the changes that are taking place and the speed at which the issues concerning our people are being addressed may not be rapid enough. I assure this Council however that the political will and commitment required for this purpose has not diminished in any way,” he said.
Minister Samaraweera noting the action taken towards reconciliation said that steps have been taken to implement the recommendations of the Commissions that were set up at the time, including those made by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and added that inquiries will be conducted into incidents identified by these Commissions as serious violations of human rights, which warrant further investigations and a criminal justice response.
“The content of the Report of the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka too can be taken into account by domestic investigative and judicial mechanisms which we are in the process of setting up,” he said while adding also adding that although Sri Lanka possess the competence, skills and human resources required to ensure the success of the reconciliation and accountability journey, they recognize that much can be drawn from the advice, technical support and assistance of the international community.
To this end, the Minister said that the Special Rapporteur on truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence, Pablo de Greiff will be visiting Sri Lanka next month upon invitation, for consultations and added the government also looks forward to receiving the Working Group on Involuntary and Enforced Disappearances.
Commenting on the steps that have already been taken by the government to ensure democracy is reinstated and upheld, he noted that within days of being elected, the new government unblocked blocked websites, lifted restrictions on foreign media personnel who are visiting the country and lifted the travel restrictions to the conflict affected areas. He also stressed on the shifting of the NGO Secretariat which was previously under the Defense Ministry, under the purview of the Ministry of Policy Planking and Economic Affairs so that they are able to work without any fear or harassment. (Lakna Paranamanna)