Aug 10, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government on Friday said it will seek a 'fair and impartial hearing' on its human rights review when it is presented to the Universal Periodic Review on human rights process at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva in November.
Addressing the final day session of the 'Defence Seminar-2012', Special Envoy for Human Rights, Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said Sri Lanka will share the progress it has made in all aspects of the promotion and protection of human rights before the international human rights forum.
"We can do no more than present our case and ask for a fair and impartial hearing. This is no more than we have always demanded," Minister Samarasinghe said.
Sharing some of the measures taken by the Sri Lankan government to achieve national reconciliation, Minister Samarasinghe said significant progress towards this goal has been made during the last nine months.
A significant achievement that is critical to the success of the government's post- armed conflict recovery and peace-building initiatives was the endorsement of the National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (NHRAP), which was in the making from 2008, by the Cabinet for implementation in December 2011.
The other event was to table the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) in Parliament in the same month. These two documents form important components of the national reconciliation effort, the Minister said.
In January this year, the government has adopted the National Trilingual Policy to enable better communication among communities.
Minister Samarasinghe criticized the adoption of the UN resolution in March 2012 despite the significant measures taken by the government to implement the recommendations of the LLRC and to present those measures to the international community.
"The resolution was in our opinion, ill-timed, unwarranted and violative of the founding principles of the Human Rights Council," the Minister stressed.
Samarasinghe pointed out that the LLRC was modeled after such mechanisms in other countries, especially the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa and the Government established tribunals within the scope of its military laws and is proceeding with these matters.
Pointing out that Sri Lanka's efforts to address the alleged human rights violations are similar to others accused of such violations of human rights and humanitarian law do in the course of their military operations in various parts of the world, the Minister asked why Sri Lanka is expected to chart a different course.
He also criticized the report made by the UN Secretary-General's (UNSG's) Advisory Panel, which Sri Lanka named as the Darusman Report.
Comparing the process of obtaining evidence by the LLRC with UNSG panel, the Minister said the UNSG panel held closed door hearings with unnamed witnesses who were guaranteed 20 years anonymity to secure their statements while the LLRC held open hearings with over 1,500 witnesses from all sectors of participants in the war.
The testimony of the UNSG's panel could not be verified or tested for its probative value, Samarasinghe said, adding that the process and content of the Darusman Report is at best questionable.
The minister said that through a national census carried out recently Sri Lanka hopes to prove wrong the figures that around 40, 000 civilians were killed during the final stages of the war.
Another concern of Sri Lankan government is the concerted campaign of disinformation and pressure exerted by the "anti-Sri Lanka Diaspora" on host countries around the world to question Sri Lanka's record, the Minister said.
He called on those countries which express an interest in reconciliation in Sri Lanka to focus on the activities of these groups which are aimed at creating instability and undermining reconciliation and to cooperate with the Sri Lankan government to arrest the campaign of disinformation which ultimately will have an adverse impact on the peace building and recovery process if allowed to continue unchecked.