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Sunday, 18 September 2011





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Government Gazette

Backdoor submission sets dangerous precedent:

Darusman Report has no standing at HRC

Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe

Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe who led the team to the 18th sessions of the UN Human Rights Council Sessions in Geneva says the arrival of the Darusman Panel Report at the office of the Council President from the backdoor should be read as a political move that sets a dangerous precedent against all the member states.

The Minister said 'if we allow all kinds of unsubstantiated and unverified reports to come into the Council. It will be a never ending scenario,it sets a dangerous precedent. It should be resisted."

The Sri Lankan delegation has informed the President of the Council that this report should not be submitted to the Council even as an information document . "Our position is being supported clearly by a majority of the council members. Because they are all looking at this as a matter of principle."

Q: The Darusman Panel Report has been forwarded to the UNHRC by the UN Secretary General. How will this affect Sri Lanka at the on going sessions?

A: It has just been forwarded to the Human Rights Council(HRC) President (Uruguay holds the current presidency of the Council) but no action has been proposed in the letter.

The letter outlines only what the UN did during the humanitarian operation.

We have taken the position that this document cannot enter the Council. Secretary General Ban ki Moon has not proposed that it should be put before the council. What we have very clearly stated that this is not a report commissioned by the Human Rights Council, neither was it commissioned by the General Assembly or the UN Security Council.

It was a report compiled purely to advise the Secretary General. So such a report does not have any standing at the Human Rights Council. It cannot enter the Session due to these reasons.

It is also very clear that this is a matter of principle, because today, it will be Sri Lanka, but tomorrow it could be any other country in the Council. If we allow all kinds of unsubstantiated and unverified reports to come into the Council, it will be an never ending scenario, setting a dangerous precedent. It should be resisted.

We also spoke to the President of the Council that even as an information document this should not be submitted to the council.

Our position is being supported clearly by a majority of the Council members. Because they are all looking at this as a matter of principle. Many delegations at the Council have openly commended Sri Lanka for making substantial progress and also they have commended Sri Lanka for the regular dialogue that we have had with the international community.

I had been coming to Geneva for the last five and a half years regularly. Every time we come we meet with the regional groups and inter regional groups as well as the President of the Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

We have held side events to counter adverse propaganda. Even this time we had a side event where we screened the video 'Lies Agreed Upon' - the defence ministry video on the Channel Four incident. We opened ourselves to any questions, and clarifications.

Sri Lanka is now being regarded as a model for others to emulate.

This has been said openly by delegation after delegation. We have been able to galvanize solid support to defeat these kinds of back door entry to the Council. We are confident that we will be able to prevent it.

Q: What is their motive in forwarding the report to the Council at this point given that a debate on Darusman Panel Report was never in the original UNHRC sessions agenda?

A: Obviously... the purpose was to see whether this report can be smuggled into the Human Rights council. What we feel is that this is a political motivation than anything else.

If anyone wants to bring this kind of report then that would deviate from the working matters procedure and all established norms governing the workings of the council.

I think we are on a very strong wicket, on this.

We have a domestic process, the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, it is not fair to make comments and attempts like this even before the working of this process is completed.

Q: If this report makes its way to the Council Sessions, what course of action Sri Lanka proposes to do, are we prepared for any such eventuality?

A: Not at all. We are confident that we have a the majority support in the council. We will do what is necessary to defeat such a move.

We have been able to galvanize support against the Darusman Report on a matter of principle. We cannot surrender the inter governmental body to a process that has had origins in the Secretary General's office in New York.

If any action has to be taken it has to be done as an intergovernmental decision but not as a unilateral decision of the Secretary General.

Q: What is on the agenda for next week?

A: By next week we will know if there is going to be a resolution on Sri Lanka. We have been a model of dialogue in the Human rights Council.

We have been briefing all the delegations. Every time we do that, we have been showing progress. This time I have been able to tell the delegations that. Out of nearly 300,000 only 7,000 IDPs left.

Out of 11,800 ex-combatants only 2,100 left to complete rehabilitation. The emergency regulations have been scrapped, the National Action Plan on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights has been approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. Likewise every time we have gone there we have shown progress.

No one can fault us for not having a dialogue. We have been a model.

The International Community must understand and appreciate this. We must be given the room to move further forward. Our whole objective is to move towards comprehensive reconciliation.

Uruguay holds the current Presidency of the Council. We have met the president on September 9 and for about one hour briefed him on Sri Lanka's concerns. I met him on a second occasion last Wednesday (September 14).


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