Sri Lanka urges loudest voices against the country to help the reconciliation efforts

Feb 27, Geneva: Sri Lanka today said it regrets that the ‘loudest voices’ among the international community vociferous on Sri Lanka’s human right issues are the least forthcoming to support the country in its reconciliation efforts and urged them to enable Sri Lanka to overcome the challenges it is facing in reconciliation and restoration of normalcy in the conflict-affected communities.

“Delivering homilies about human rights in Sri Lanka at fora such as these would be much more meaningful if they were supported by real and substantial corporation and assistance in keeping with this Council’s Resolution on Sri Lanka in 2009,” addressing the 19th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva today Plantation Minister and President’s special Human Rights Envoy Mahinda Samarasinghe said.

Minister Samarasinghe pointed out that the Sri Lankan government, the UN and the international and local NGOs entered into a tripartite agreement for a Joint Assistance Plan to develop the war-battered North and nearly three years after the end of the war only a meager 35 percent of the plan was funded.

The Minister explained to the Council that the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) appointed by the Sri Lankan President has recommended several measures for the future and the government has already implemented some of these measures including the resettlement of IDPs, demining, rehabilitation of ex-combatants, implementation of the language policy, recruitment of Tamil police officers and gradually removing the military from the civil administration in the North.

The government will continue to address the recommended measures comprehensively in a “systematic and thorough” manner, the Minister assured.

He, especially noted that the LLRC’s recommendation on formulating a land use plan for the Northern and Eastern provinces require further study and careful planning.

The envoy differentiated the LLRC report from the report of the Panel of Experts appointed by the UN Secretary-General to probe Sri Lanka’s accounatability issues.

Questioning the credibility of the UN Expert Panel report, which the government has dubbed as ‘Darusman Report’, the Minister said the UN report is based on closed-door hearings of unnamed witnesses who have been provided 20-year immunity whereas the LLRC report recorded on-camera testimonies of named witnesses whose accounts are substantive and verifiable.

He pointed out to the Council that Sri Lanka has taken “clear and definite” steps to implement the recommendations of the domestic process barely two months after the report was made public and the government has looked into a mechanism to address the accountability issues the report has raised.

The Minister assured to keep the Council informed of Sri Lanka’s progress on these issues in the sessions in June, September and in the course of the upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in October.

He renewed an invitation to the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Ms. Navaneetham Pillay to visit Sri Lanka to observe the progress.

Read the text of Minister Samarasinghe’s Speech.

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