India mum, US flags SL rights record at Geneva
By P K Balachandran - COLOMBO
02nd March 2013 07:51 AM
The US was the only member country to raise the issue of human rights violations in Sri Lanka in the time allotted for opening statements at the 22nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.
Neither Britain nor France mentioned the island nation although they had been in the forefront of the Western powers’ campaign to ensure civilian safety in the last and decisive phase of Eelam War IV in 2009. Germany did not speak about the rights situation in Lanka, but mildly rebuked the Lankan delegate for unfairly criticising the High Commissioner of Human Rights, Navanetham Pillai. India too avoided any mention of Lanka.
Germany had noted that Pillai, was “increasingly facing unjustified criticism” and cited the statement made by the Lankan delegate Mahinda Samarasinghe as an example.
In a forthright statement, the US said: “...Sri Lanka must promptly implement the constructive recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). It must address accountability for violations of international law and investigate allegations of war crimes. We welcome the concerns of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights about the government’s lack of genuine action on these issues as well as its recent efforts to undermine the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law. We stand ready, with OHCHR, to help Sri Lanka address outstanding issues related to reconciliation, democratic governance and accountability.”
On Thursday, the UNHRC disassociated itself from the screening of the Channel 4 film “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka” on the UN premises by some NGOs on the sidelines of the 22nd session.
Following a protest letter from the Lankan Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Ravinatha Aryasinha, president of the UNHRC, Remigiusz A Henczel, said that such events did not reflect the official position of the Council.
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