Nov 03, Colombo: At the United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review of Sri Lanka Thursday in Geneva, a majority of the member states of the United Nations has commended Sri Lanka for its progress in the resettlement of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the development of the conflict-affected areas.
A total of 99 countries expressed their views in brief statements after the opening statement by the Mahinda Samarasinghe, Minister of Plantation Industries and Special Envoy of the President on Human Rights.
Appreciating the progress Sri Lanka made in several fronts a majority of the international community has agreed that Sri Lanka needs further time to address the crucial issues within the country while the others, mostly western nations including the United States, Britain and Canada have called on the Sri Lankan government to improve the remaining concerns.
Australia called on the Sri Lankan government to take action to reduce and eliminate all cases of abductions and disappearances, torture and abuse by police and security forces, and facilitate greater participation of citizens in implementing human rights action plans.
Britain expressed concern about attacks on and intimidation of journalists, human rights defenders and legal professionals and called on the government to ensure no legal or political impunity for such attacks and nor reprisals against any individual. The UK asked the Sri Lankan government to transparently investigate international humanitarian law violations during the conflict.
Welcoming the steps taken by the government to implement the Human Rights Council Resolution of March 22, 2012, Canada urged the government to expedite implementation of reconciliation measures in the North including the reduction of military presence in the North and setting a specific date for Northern Provincial Council elections. Canada also called on repealing certain clauses of the Prevention of Terrorism Act to ensure detainees' safety and rights.
Thailand recommended that relevant legislations and administrative measures be further strengthened to ensure transparency and non-impunity in the judicial process on all alleged enforced disappearance cases including investigation, prosecution and reparation.
Sri Lanka's closest neighbor, India said it will continue to remain engaged in assisting Sri Lanka in its rehabilitation and resettlement efforts for IDPs and insisted on effective and timely implementation of the recommendations in the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
India also called for credible investigations into the allegations of human right violations and incidents involving loss of civilian life.
A troika headed by India with members Spain and Benin will now review Sri Lanka's progress in the human rights front and produce a report that would be adopted by a vote in the Council on November 05.
Sri Lanka meanwhile has opened a photographic exhibition yesterday on "Sri Lanka's Post Conflict and Development" at the main conference hall. The Organizing Committee has said that diplomats, representatives and representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations as well as journalists from many countries viewed the exhibition on the first day.
Lora Lazre, the Chairperson of the UN Human Rights Council and the Uruguay Ambassador also joined in viewing the exhibition. The exhibition was an impetus to give a clear picture of Sri Lanka to the world, the organizers said.
Parliamentarian Sajin Vaas Gunawardena, Sri Lanka Resident Representative in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha, Secretary of the Justice Ministry Kamalini de Silva, Additional Secretary Suhada Gamlath, former Attorney General Mohan Peiris and Army Chief of Staff Major General Daya Ratnayake also participated in the UPR session.
(Photos by Sudath Silva)