Ahead of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions, the government has started a major diplomatic battle here in Geneva to secure the support of the member states to defeat a planned resolution against Sri Lanka with regard to the alleged rights violations during the last stage of the war, Minister G. L. Peiris said yesterday.
External Affairs Minister Prof. Peiris told journalists during a breakfast meeting that the United States had now called its resolution ‘harmless’ , and Sri Lanka should not be worried about it. The Minister said that the government would not support the latest stand by the US in this respect.
“This will internationalise Sri Lanka’s issue. We will not support the idea put forward by the US that the resolution will be harmless,” he said.
The US has drafted its resolution based on issues such as the delay in the implementation of the recommendations by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and an action plan to address accountability issues.
Responding to these matters, the Minister who heads the delegation in diplomatic engagements said that the government needed time and space to implement the recommendations.
“The report was presented in Parliament on December 17, 2011. Then, we had the festive period. I was notified on January 25, 2012 that there would be a resolution against us. Is it reasonable for anyone to expect us to implement these recommendations within a span of four weeks? In comparable situations in other countries, it has sometimes taken ten years,” he said.
Prof. Peiris said that the government had started work to address the accountability issues.
“A great deal of work has already been done. We have started collecting and evaluating evidence. The army itself started a court of inquiry. They will talk to witnesses. Also, the government is planning to do a census to verify and ascertain the number of casualty figures. This will be done by the people from those areas,” he said.
The Minister noted that these issues would be addressed in a local context, and a heavy handed international intervention would only complicate the process.
“It will polarise the problem. Local remedies have to be encouraged in this case,” he said.
Also, he noted that action would be taken to address the land issued as recommended in the LLRC report. (Kelum Bandara reporting from Geneva)