Sri Lanka says ICRC offered unhindered access to all places of detention

Sri Lanka says the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was offered unhindered access to all places of detention.

Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha said that over the past four decades Sri Lanka has provided valuable case studies to the world in the successes in the operationalization of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and humanitarian diplomacy, as well as the challenges entailed in doing so, many in which the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been a valued partner.

The Foreign Secretary made this observation when he delivered the Opening Statement at the 9th South Asian Regional Conference on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) –“ IHL in Action: A Narrative of Prevention and Protection”, organized by the ICRC Colombo in collaboration with the Government of Sri Lanka and held on 11-13 November 2019, at the Galle Face Hotel, Colombo.

Attorney General Dappula de Livera delivered the keynote address, while the Head of Delegation of the ICRC Loukas Petridis and the Head of Advisory Service of the ICRC in Geneva also addressed the gathering.

Government Representatives from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Nepal, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are participating in the conference.

Aryasinha noted that Sri Lanka’s 1989 signing of the agreement with the ICRC would probably count as an early manifestation of Sri Lanka’s international commitment to IHL. He said the experience of Sri Lanka in its commitment towards ‘protection’ was evidenced through the food convoys to the North & East and the 100% coverage of the national immunization programme carried out, including in terrorist held areas, throughout the near 30 year separatist terrorist conflict.

Sri Lanka has encouraged States with capabilities to develop these weapons to take immediate action in placing national moratoria, while emphasizing that negotiation of a binding legal framework which provides for regulatory norms with meaningful human control as its central thrust.

Noting that “the ICRC has admirably ensured ‘neutrality’ in its work”, he requested that all “be wary of the politicization of the application of IHL. No one solution fits all circumstances and local sensitivities and nuances must be taken into consideration in finding the correct balance in assessing a conflict situation. This has been a prime concern in the ongoing discussions following from the decision of the 32nd Meeting of High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, where many countries urged to prevent ‘naming and shaming’ in order  to maintain a healthy dialogue which is apolitical and facilitate countries to share best practices”. He said this would best serve all our countries better in engaging in humanitarian diplomacy, and in easing human suffering.