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Sunday, 28 September 2014





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Joint statement by 22 developing countries of LMG:

Intrusive mandate to OHCHR unwarranted

Twenty-two developing countries of the Like Minded Group (LMG) in Geneva, in a joint statement made through its Chair - Egypt, have said the Group “believes that the intrusive mandate given to the OHCHR by Resoluton 25/1 to carry out investigations on Sri Lanka is unwarranted, especially in the context where the country is implementing its own domestic processes”.

It said “OHCHR’s efforts should contribute to a state’s own efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights, as stipulated in the UNGA Res. 48/141, UNGA Res. 60/251, UNGA Res. 65/281 and in the IB package. These core documents do not confer any oversight authority to the OHCHR over sovereign countries.

Any external assistance to countries should expressly be in consultation with and with the consent of that country”. It also noted that “however, in contravention of these fundamental principles, Resolution 25/1 calls for ‘comprehensive investigation’ by the OHCHR, thereby vesting an investigative authority on the office”.

It said, “as we have observed, successive resolutions on Sri Lanka have not enjoyed the consensus of the Council members. This was amply evident by the divided vote of 14 against, 10 abstentions on OP 10 of resolution 25/1, which sought to establish the OHCHR investigation”. The statement said “the international community should be mindful not to jeopardise the delicate process of reconciliation that is already under way in Sri Lanka”.

The countries endorsing this statement (See full text below) were; Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, DPRK, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Uganda, Venezuela, Zimbabwe. It was delivered on Thursday, September 25, 2014 following the ‘Oral Update’ of the High Commissioner and the reply by Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative.

In addition, several countries in individual country statements during the General Debate were also critical of the OHCHR’s action and supported Sri Lanka’s domestic reconciliation.

Azerbaijan noted the Government of Sri Lanka’s intention to continue to engage with the regular mechanisms of the Council. It said that all measures should be taken within the climate of mutual understanding and constructive cooperation and that all outstanding issues can be considered within the spirit of cooperation and correlation between Sri Lanka and the United Nations Human Rights system.

Saying that “the Human Rights Resolution on Sri Lanka is an example of political pressure of enforcing one-sided and biased views”, Belarus said “granting the OHCHR and its international civil servants authorities to investigate without corresponding agreement of these functions with the country concerned, creates the basis for interference in the domestic affairs of the State that undermines State’s trust and confidence in the UN system as a whole.”

China welcoming the country’s reconstruction, national reconciliation and economic and social development and the adoption of “a National Action Plan to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) to strengthen the functions of the relevant domestic institutions and achieve tangible and important progress” regretted that these developments have not been fully reflected in the High Commissioner’s report. It called upon the international community to show respect and support to Sri Lanka’s national reconciliation efforts.

Cuba said that the “Sri Lankan government has come on a cooperative and constructive fashion to each session of this Council. It has submitted information on a regular and broad basis, it has invited the special procedures, it has welcomed the former High Commissioner.

This apparently has not been enough and it is still singled out by those who sponsored that resolution. The resolution was adopted with a substantial number of abstentions and votes against. This illustrates the division that exist as regard the real need as to whether this needs to be accessed by the Council or not.” India expressed concern “that the High Commissioner has not indicated how he intends to proceed with his investigation in the absence of cooperation from the country concerned.”

While saying that “the composition of the OHCHR investigating team, its work methodology and sources of funding have not been shared with this Council”, it called upon “the High Commissioner to do so to maintain the credibility of the report”. It said that “We also note that a number of countries had expressed concerns on the international investigation in their statements, including one through the LMG statement.” India said, “Sri Lanka should be given all assistance in a cooperative and collaborative manner.

We take positive note of Sri Lanka’s engagement with UN human rights mechanisms, despite its non-recognition of recent resolutions adopted by the Council on Sri Lanka”

Lao PDR said, “A country-specific human rights resolution would not help to comprehensively address human rights issues”.

“We also welcome efforts of the Sri Lankan government to continue its domestic process of reconciliation in the country by, along others, implementing the National Action Plan of the LLRC, which was formulated for this purpose”.

The Maldives which commended the broadening of the mandate of the COI on disappearances and inclusion of international experts as an advisory group, welcomed “the initiatives by the Government of Sri Lanka to cooperate with the international community”.

Myanmar while noting that the previous High Commissioner paid the longest official visit to Sri Lanka with unfettered access, Myanmar said “reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction work after 30 years of terrorism in Sri Lanka is no easy task”. “Despite the numerous challenges Sri Lanka remains committed in its reconciliation process.” It also joined the call by other like-minded countries expressing its objections to the mandate given by the Council to OHCHR to carry out investigation against Sri Lanka, which is “increasingly using human rights as a political tool with undue pressure” that could “have a negative impact on the good image and credibility of the Council.”

Namibia said that as a matter of principle, it usually abstained from country specific Human Rights resolutions, as they believe that “some countries impose their policies and views on certain countries, while turning a blind eye on others.”

Reflecting on its own national experience, it noted that “the willingness of the Namibian people to embrace national reconciliation after independence has brought about peace in the country, but we needed time and space to build trust and healing. It is for that reason, that the international community should not impose solutions on Sri Lanka, but that it should encourage the national process, which will be more sustainable and long lasting”.

Pakistan called the Council to refrain from allocating precious human and financial resources to such confrontational and counter-productive initiatives which divert the focus of the Member States from other more pressing human rights situations meriting attention.

It called upon countries sheltering and facilitating former LTTE dissidents to ensure that such elements are not allowed to create problems among the expatriate Sri Lankan diaspora and said that the international community must act as a facilitator and be part of the solution rather that part of the problem in the country.

The Philippines noted that the oral update by the High Commissioner, was being made pursuant to resolution 25/1 adopted by a “divided” Council. It acknowledged Sri Lanka’s proactive engagement with the Human Rights Council mechanisms, despite its rejection of resolution 25/1.

Qatar appreciated Sri Lanka’s continued engagement with treaty bodies and special procedures mandate holders and called upon the Government of Sri Lanka to pursue its efforts to finalise the national reconciliation process and to implement the national plan for reconciliation.

Russia said that it had consistently spoken against the investigation on Sri Lanka.

The Russian Federation said, “We do not see any objective clarification“ for having an investigation.

It said that the process of national reconciliation and investigations on past crimes should be consulted by the Sri Lankans themselves and any interference is counter productive and would be highly detrimental.“

It said that “The OHCHR should assist States to promote and protect human rights and not undermine these.“

South Sudan Commending Sri Lanka’s continued engagement with mechanisms of the Council, especially recognised “the progress made by the Government in restoring of the education system in the conflict-affected areas with 11,105 primary schools upgraded” and appreciated “the Government allocation of additional financial resources for restitution and compensatory relief in 2014.”

Sudan said that the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka and its positive engagement with the OHCHR, and the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, said that it is of the view that “The mandate for a ‘comprehensive investigation’ which vest on the OHCHR, an intrusive external investigative authority not only exceeds its mandate, but also challenges the sovereignty and independence of a member state of the United Nations, it violates a fundamental principle of international law which requires that national remedies have to be exhausted before resorting to international mechanisms.”

Thailand said they “commend the progress in Sri Lanka’s own domestic process of reconciliation and the Government of Sri Lanka’s continued engagement with the various mechanisms of the Council. We sincerely believe that international support, rather than pressure, will truly help heal and move forward a country that just came out of a long and bitter war against terrorism”.

Uzbekistan said, “The progress achieved in the country in resolving the very difficult problems after terrorism was eradicated in the Northern Province” and extended its support to “the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka to strengthen national reconciliation to reconstruction of their country and promote and protect human rights through applying a constructive approach” while acknowledging the need to respect the sovereignty of the country.

Venezuela said that it voted against Resolution 25/1, as it was “Another highly politicised process in which the country itself concerned was not heard”, “The High Commissioner and the Office should work with Governments to achieve the objective of human rights without any investigative powers over sovereign states, as was imposed through this resolution.”

It regretted that “There is no proper appreciation of the major efforts by this Government to comply with its human rights commitments and in restoring peace in 2009.”


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