There is a “sea change” in the approach of the new Sri Lankan government over the alleged war crimes during the last phase of the civil war with the LTTE and India is hopeful that there will be a consensus resolution on the issue at the UN Human Rights Council next week, the Press Trust of India reported.
The Indian position was explained by MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup while briefing reporters on the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena last night on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. The issue of human rights and the situation pertaining to the ongoing discussions on UN Human Rights Council came up during a meeting between the two leaders.
“As far as India is concerned, we naturally support the quest for justice. At the same time we are respectful of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty. We are hopeful that a way will be found where both these points and objectives can be met,” said Swarup.
The Sri Lankan Government is “engaging” with the UN Human Rights Council and there is a “sea change” in the approach of the new government in this island nation, he said. When asked about India’s position on the hybrid court including foreign judges to probe the alleged war crimes, Swarup said New Delhi would have to look at the final outcome of the draft resolution as he hoped that it would be a consensus and acceptable to the Sri Lankan Government.
“Our expectation at this point is that hopefully it will be a consensus resolution which everyone will be able to pass unanimously and it is something which will be acceptable to the Government of Sri Lanka also,” he said. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has called for the formation of a hybrid special court, integrating international judges, prosecutors, lawyers and investigators. Sri Lanka has been insisting on a domestic mechanism to probe the matter.
Rights groups claim that the Sri Lankan military killed 40,000 civilians in the final months of the three decade-long brutal ethnic conflict with the LTTE that ended in 2009. Swarup said the Lankan government is actively engaging with the Human Rights Council now. “It is a sea change from the position that was there earlier. Our position is very clear. We stand for justice and at the same time we are respectful of the Sri Lankan sovereignty issues to the extent the Sri Lankan Government is comfortable with the formulation that marries the two. We will be comfortable with that,” he said.
A US-initiated draft resolution on Sri Lanka’s alleged human rights violations has called for a domestic judicial mechanism that includes foreign judges to probe the war crimes during the conflict with the LTTE. The draft resolution, co-sponsored by Sri Lanka, the US the UK, Macedonia and Montenegro was submitted to the UNHRC in Geneva this week.
Complimenting the Sri Lankan President on the two elections in the country, Modi said this revealed the deep-rooted democratic traditions and the faith that the people of Sri Lanka had in democracy. There was a discussion on the reconciliation process and President said he expected this to move forward, Swarup said. Issues of developmental project in Sri Lanka came up, he said, adding that India has made a number of new commitments on railway, infrastructure power and housing project.
“We expect 46,000 houses to be completed by early next year,” Swarup added.