Oct 14, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government is preparing itself for the challenge it would face when the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) reviews the progress the country made in the promotions and protection of human rights.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's special envoy for human rights, Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe will lead the government delegation to participate in the 14th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Universal Periodic Review in Geneva from 22 October - 5 November 2012.
The second cycle of Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process on Sri Lanka is scheduled for 1st of November, 2012. Adoption of the report on Sri Lanka is scheduled for 5th of November.
Sri Lanka, considering that UPR to be the most appropriate forum at which human rights related matters pertaining to a country should be discussed, submitted its national report that briefs the Council on gains made, challenges faced and future plans regarding the human rights situation in the country to the UNHRC Working Group.
The 10,700 word report is said to have focused on the resettlement of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and the progress made on the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
In preparation for the upcoming review the special envoy for human rights, Minister Samarasinghe has held a meeting at his Ministry last week with a group of humanitarian activists about the UPR.
The group, which included senior representatives of over 35 organizations including INGOs, human rights groups and civil society, had urged the government to address accountability issues or face the consequences at the UNHRC.
Minister Samarasinghe whilst thanking the representatives for accepting his invitation for a dialogue on the subject had described some of the post-war initiatives undertaken by the government to address accountability issues.
The Minister had acknowledged that there were still some issues to be resolved completely but reminded the group that Sri Lanka was the country that voluntarily took on board the most number of proposals put forward at the last UPR in 2008.
He had further advised the group that they are welcome to make representations at the sessions in Geneva but added that they should be objective in their approach and also acknowledge some of the good work accomplished by the State and the progress made in some key areas.
The group had accused the government of failing to address what it called ethno-political grievances even after the conclusion of the conflict in May 2009.
According to the UNHRC 46 stakeholders have made submissions to the Council on Sri Lanka's UPR process. Among them are 17 joint submissions from international as well as local NGOs.
The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has said that Sri Lanka had yet to ratify and reflect in the national legal system the international human rights treaties to strengthen the human rights framework in the country.
A troika headed by India and included Spain and Benin has been appointed for the review of Sri Lanka. Following Sri Lanka's review the troika would prepare its report.
All three countries in the troika have voted in support of the UN resolution on Sri Lanka, sponsored by the United States and adapted by the UN Human Rights Council at the 19th sessions of UNHRC in Geneva on March 22.
The report by the troika is to be presented to the UNHRC on November 5th and will be adopted on the same day.