Sri Lanka hits back after Bachelet presents report to UNHRC

Sri Lanka today hit back after the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet formally presented her report on Sri Lanka to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena told the Council that Sri Lanka rejects the recommendations made by Bachelet in her report.

He also accused the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights of failing to include comments by Sri Lanka in the report.

Bachelet told the Council today that by repeatedly failing to advance accountability for past human rights violations committed, and by withdrawing its support for the Council’s resolution 30/1 and related measures, the Government of Sri Lanka has largely closed the door on the possibility of genuine progress to end impunity through a national process.

“For these reasons, I call on the Council to explore new ways to advance various types of accountability at the international level, for all parties, and seek redress for victims, including by supporting a dedicated capacity to collect and preserve evidence and information for future accountability processes, as well as to support relevant judicial proceedings in Member States,” she said.

Bachelet said her Office stands ready to continue monitoring the human rights situation, including progress towards accountability and reconciliation.

“Sri Lanka refutes the allegations that have been reproduced in the High Commissioner’s report, from the highly contentious Report of the Panel of Experts (PoE) on Accountability and the Report of the High Commissioner’s Office Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL), which have been rejected by Sri Lanka for reasons explained to this Council before. The contents of the Report which have been drawn from the said disputed reports are rife with factual inaccuracies that appear to equate atrocities committed by the LTTE, a terrorist organization proscribed internationally, with legitimate action taken by the government to safeguard the territorial integrity of the country and the right to life of our people,” Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said in a right of reply.

He said the call for asset freezes, travel bans, references to the ICC and the exercise of universal jurisdiction by individual States, based on evidence that up to date has been denied access to and retained by the High Commissioners Office with some of it unreleased for thirty years, particularly in relation to a country like Sri Lanka which has consistently and constructively engaged with the UN and its mechanisms, points to a distinct and eminent danger which the international community as a whole need to take note of. (Colombo Gazette)