Human Rights, not a tool to settle foreign policy issues – Mahinda
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinghe has sought a
clarification from UN Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillai as to
why Sri Lanka’s response to her report was not annexed when the latter
was circulated among the member countries ahead of its submission in the
Human Rights Council sessions this week, Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe
The 25th regular sessions of the Human Rights Council will commence
tomorrow in Geneva and continue till March 28.
The report ‘Advice and Technical Assistance for Government of Sri
Lanka on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka’ is
currently being circulated by the office of High Commissioner Pillai
sans the 18-page Sri Lanka response where the Government has rejected a
call for an international mechanism to investigate the last phase of the
Pillai’s visit and report was facilitated by the US sponsored
resolution in 2013.
When HC Navi Pillai’s limited (Oral) report in the aftermath of her
Sri Lanka visit was submitted to the HRC in September last year, the
objections raised by Sri Lanka were also annexed. Hence, he member
countries had it at hand when they perused her report which was, by and
large, critical of Sri Lanka’s national reconciliation process.
“Our stand is that this is a procedural violation,” the Minister said
referring to the failure to annex Sri Lanka’s response. Ambassador
Aryasinghe has already written to the High Commissioner seeking a
clarification and Sri Lanka’s response is currently being circulated
among member countries for their reference.
The Report to be tabled this week under Item No 2 will be up for
debate among the member states to decide if her recommendations should
be taken on board or not.
China and Russia among other voting powers in the HRC have criticised
Pillai’s call saying Human Rights should not be a tool to settle foreign
policy issues. Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Department for
Humanitarian Cooperation and Human Rights Director Anatoly Viktorov who
recently visited Sri Lanka said any impartial observer should admit that
Sri Lanka has shown progress in addressing many post terrorism issues.
“The level of confrontation and politicisation of the issues at the
UNHRC is incredible. It is even higher than the UN Security Council
which is a political body,” he said.
Expressing support to safeguard Sri Lanka’s self-respect, sovereignty
and territorial integrity, the Chinese Vice President, Li Yuanchao also
told External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris in Beijing recently
that the use of human rights as a device to interfere in the domestic
affairs of a country cannot be approved.
Minister Samarasinghe said, “to call for an international inquiry
before even the domestic inquiry commences and continues to insist when
a domestic inquiry is in progress, is a very partial and subjective
manner of action by the Human Rights Chief adding that this will be
raised again by the Sri Lankan delegation at the forthcoming session.
Prof. Peiris left the country yesterday morning for Myanmar from
where he will proceed to Geneva to lead the Sri Lanka delegation at the