Sept 19, Geneva: Sri Lanka today expressed dismay at the concerns expressed by the United States, Germany and Ireland at the General Debate of the 24th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva and asked the detractors at HRC not to discredit the Northern PC election process or prejudge its outcome.
In a Right of Reply with regard to references made to Sri Lanka by Germany, the U.S. and Ireland under the General Debate at the ongoing session, Sri Lanka's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Manisha Gunasekera on Thursday said, it is ironic that Germany chose to discredit the election process for the Northern Provincial Council and prejudge its outcome and impact when Sri Lanka is holding the first ever election to the Council since the introduction of the Provincial Council system in 1987.
Delivering a statement at the General Debate on "Human rights situations that require the Council's attention" on Tuesday, German Ambassador Hanns Schumacher said the upcoming elections in the Northern Province could help to reconcile and enfranchise the Tamil population, but only if they are free and fair and if the 13th amendment is not revoked.
Sri Lanka pointed out that commitment of the Sri Lankan government to ensure the transparent and free and fair conduct of the election not only to the Northern Provincial Council, but also to the Central and North Western Provincial Councils which go to polls this Saturday is clearly demonstrated by the presence of 24 election observers from the South Asian region as well as from Commonwealth countries, on the invitation of the Elections Commissioner.
Sri Lanka further noted that there has been no practice in the country for external monitors to observe provincial council elections but the Election Commissioner invited the foreign observers as confidence building measure and to assure transparency.
Sri Lankan delegation lashed out at Germany for lack of objectivity displayed by ignoring the steps taken by the government to achieve comprehensive reconciliation as recommended by the LLRC and to investigate alleged atrocities during the final phase of the war.
Sri Lanka said it is surprised that the U.S. should declare that 'Sri Lanka should set visit dates and provide access for relevant special rapporteurs' when the UNHRC has been updated twice in the current session of the government's proactive engagement with special procedures mandate holders and the invitations it has extended in this regard.
The U.S. said at the General Debate that Sri Lanka should set dates for Special Rapporteurs to visit and provide relevant access.
The Sri Lankan government will decide the schedule for such visits according to the requirement of the country and appropriate timing, the delegation said.
Responding to the concerns expressed by Ireland on the treatment of the prisoners incarcerated in connection with the conflict, enforced disappearances, torture and human rights violations, Sri Lanka denied that there were human rights violations against the prisoners detained in connection with terrorist activities.
The legal legal representatives and family members, as well as the National Human Rights Commission and the ICRC have free access to all those in custody, the delegation told the Council.
The envoy told the Council that instances of reported cases of torture have diminished considerably throughout the last five years and the government has recently appointed a Commission to investigate allegations of disappearances, which will complement ongoing action.
The Sri Lankan delegation said it is disconcerting to keep noting the same allegations, particularly when the Council has been continuously sensitized to the action taken on the very same issues.
"We can only keep hoping for an objective and constructive approach from the HRC," the envoy said.
Full Statement of the Right of Reply