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* Negative attention on Sri Lanka is making reconciliation even harder - Minister
Fri, Mar 7, 2014, 01:10 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 07, Geneva: Sri Lanka's External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris has told the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay that the negative attention placed on the island nation makes achieving reconciliation among ethnic communities even harder.

Minister Peiris has made this remark when he, as the leader of the Sri Lankan delegation to Geneva, met with the High Commissioner on Thursday and briefed her on the continuing efforts on reconciliation and development in the country.

"The highly prejudiced actions taken by a few countries and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to give disproportionate negative attention to Sri Lanka, has made the separatist Tamil elements in Sri Lanka and abroad more intransigent, making the intensely difficult task of reconciliation in Sri Lanka, even harder," he has said.

He said it was unfortunate that Sri Lanka has become a "political football" in the electoral fortunes in some countries.

According to a statement released by Sri Lanka's Permanent Mission in Geneva, the Minister has said that she was well aware of the important political decisions the government had taken in the restoration of normalcy to those affected following the conflict, the channeling of necessary resources to develop the previously conflict affected areas and then holding of the Northern Provincial Council elections in September 2013.

Minister Peiris has drawn High Commissioner's attention to the objections he made in his national statement Wednesday to her report on Sri Lanka to the current Human Rights Council session.

In his statement to the 25th session, the Minister detailed the lack of objectivity and patent bias evidenced in the High Commissioner's report, which also called for the setting up of an international inquiry mechanism on Sri Lanka. He said the report was both one sided and politicized.

The Minister has observed that it was particularly unfortunate that the High Commissioner acted so after having had the benefit of an extended visit to Sri Lanka where she was given unimpeded access.

Noting that the High Commissioner had undertaken her visit almost 2 1/2 years after the original invitation was extended by the Government, he said some of the High Commissioner's comments while in Sri Lanka, as well as her final report, represented a "lost opportunity" in contributing positively to Sri Lanka's reconciliation process and development.

Minister Peiris said the bias and unfairness with which Sri Lanka was being treated was also evident in recent acts such as the refusal of the OHCHR to place Sri Lanka's comments on the High Commissioner's report as an addendum giving it equal visibility, as done when she presented her report on Sri Lanka the previous year.

While appreciating that the OHCHR had incorporated some of the glaring errors that were contained in her draft report following Sri Lanka's comments, he said, the Sri Lankan government was nevertheless concerned about the methodology and sources that continue to inform the High Commissioner's reports and action on Sri Lanka. He said this eroded the confidence in the UN system, the HRC and the OHCHR.

Sri Lankan Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha and Deputy Permanent Representative Manisha Gunasekera accompanied the Minister at the meeting. Hanny Megaly, Head of Asia Pacific of the OHCHR and other officials of the OHCHR accompanied the High Commissioner.

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