Says allegations against Shavendra, a violation of principles of natural justice
During the General Debate at the UN Human Rights Council yesterday, Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said Sri Lanka sincerely hoped that the Council would recognize the realities on the ground and would appreciate the new Government’s approach of focusing on deliverable measures of reconciliation that are in line with the interest of Sri Lanka and its people.
Minister Gunawardane said during the 40th Session of the Council almost one year ago, the Sri Lankan delegation headed by former Foreign Affairs Minister explained at length the constitutional, legal and socio-political challenges involved in ‘fully implementing’ HRC Resolution 30/1.
“In this context, we consider that the High Commissioner’s insistence in the current Report on the “full implementation” of the demands made on Sri Lanka in Resolution 30/1 indicates that the OHCHR fails to recognise the rational and legitimate concerns voiced by States that are seeking, in good faith, to address issues,” he said.
Meanwhile, the minister said Sri Lanka considers that the continued arbitrary accusations made against Army Commander Shavendra Silva in OHCHR Reports and other statements made in this Council and unilateral actions by certain countries, are unacceptable and a violation of the principles of natural justice.
“We also stress that there are no proven allegations against individuals on war crimes or crimes against humanity in the OISL report or in any subsequent official document. It is an injustice to deprive any serving or retired officer of the Sri Lankan security forces or the police of their due rights,” he said.
Commenting on the elections, the minister said the citizens in the Northern Province were able to use their franchise at a Provincial Council (PC) election after a lapse of 25 years, soon after the end of the conflict.
“However, the near two year delay in holding PC elections by the previous Government which co-sponsored Resolution 30/1, with the active support of MPs representing the North and East, has hampered the operationalization of devolution of power as mandated by the Constitution,” he said adding the new Government is committed to holding the PC elections at the earliest possible opportunity.
He assured that existing reconciliation mechanisms established by an Act of Parliament such as the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) and the Office of Reparations (OR) will be continued, with appropriate adaptation in line with Government policy framework.
“With regard to the issues on missing persons, steps would be taken, after necessary investigations, to issue death certificates or certificates of absence, while also providing livelihood and other assistance to affected families.
We hope the Council would appreciate this approach of focusing on deliverable measures of reconciliation that are in line with the interest of Sri Lanka and its people, instead of the practice of taking on a host of undeliverable commitments with the intention of never implementing them.
Within the above parameters, we look forward to continuing our engagement with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Human Rights mechanisms and procedures, and to continue to work in close cooperation with the international community through capacity building and technical assistance in mutually agreed areas, in keeping with domestic priorities and policies,” he said.