Sri Lanka to make “roll over” bid at Human Rights Council

Sri Lanka will pitch their proposal to get another two years to fulfill its promises made four years ago of post-war transitional justice and accountability in a resolution co-sponsored by Colombo and moved by the UK, Canada and Germany at the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 40th session today (Thursday).

Sri Lanka’s record and promises came up for discussion on Wednesday when the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet presented a report on the progress the country had made in the past four years.

Bachelet was critical of the progress, proposing that her organisation open an office in Colombo. Independent research foundation Verite noted that Sri Lanka has fulfilled only 6 of the 36 promises it made to the international committee four years ago.

Foreign Minister Tilak Marapone addressed the council during the debate and esssentially enumerated what the country could do and us unable to do.

Reports from New Delhi carried on thewire quoting Indian officials claimed that India had intervened positively to get tough language in the resolution toned down and supported the two year extension to give Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe “a break.”

Official sources in Colombo said they were “unaware of any interventions by India.” Diplomatic sources in Colombo and Geneva also told RepublicNext had no information about such a move.

The deep divisions between the the Prime Minister and President Maithripala Sirisena over the country’s stand before the Human Rights Commission had threatened to blow up before the sessions began.

Just weeks before the the sessions President Sirisena said that he favors efforts at the meetings to persuade the Council to hold back putting pressure on Sri Lanka to prosecute war crimes, offer reparations for war victims and the other post-war promises the country gave. He said he wants the UN to have a “hands off approach.”

He then announced he would be sending three people, former Ministers Sarath Amunugama and Mahinda Samarasinghe and the newly appointed Governor of the Northern Province Suren Raghavan as his representatives to pursue these objectives.





However the government in a media statement, hit back saying it would stick with co-sponsoring the resolution that would “roll over” the earlier resolution and give Sri Lanka two more years to fulfill these promises.The government also indicated at the time that it would not be sending a delegation from Colombo but expected the embassy in Geneva to deal with the matter.

The strongly worded statement had a thinly veiled attack against the nationalist stance and pro-military leanings of the President. Embarrassed Foreign Ministry officials told RepublicNext that “this is not our language.”

In the end the two sides compromised after discussions between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the President and the MFA announced on March 13 that a delegation that included two members of the team appointed by the president would represent the country.

The MFA statement said after consultations between the president and the MFA Amunugama and Raghavan who were nominated by Sirisena would join the delegation led by Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana and comprising Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha and Deputy Solicitor General A. Nerin Pulle.

Officials said the delegation would present “a united front” at the sessions where the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany are taking the lead in pushing resolutions regarding Sri Lanka after the United States withdrew from the Council some months ago.

However in Parliament on Tuesday with MP Wijedasa Rajapakshe, who acts often as a spokesman for Sirisena said that the President has not given his consent to the resolution and he ” will have the last say.” Government Ministers Lakshman Kiriella and Mangala Samaraweera however argued that the resolution was needed to risking Sri Lanka facing international isolation.

Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva A.L.A. Azeez, Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Samantha Jayasuriya, and other relevant officials of the Sri Lanka Permanent Mission in Geneva are also attending the sessions.

According to the independent research body Verite Sri Lanka has only fulfilled 6 of the 36 promises it made in the original resolution passed 4 years ago.

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