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Geneva: Prof. Peiris questions Bachelet’s actions, complains of unfair treatment

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Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris addressing the interactive dialogue on the OHCHR report on Sri Lanka on March 4 at the ongoing Geneva sessions

Accusing the UN of pursuing an agenda inimical to war-winning Sri Lanka, Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris has faulted the Office of UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet for not releasing Sri Lanka’s response along with Bachelet’s report submitted to the ongoing Geneva sessions.

The following is the text of the Foreign Minister’s statement made at the interactive dialogue on the OHCHR report on Sri Lanka on March 4: “The Resolution 46/1 on Sri Lanka was adopted by a divided vote in this Council. Sri Lanka and other Member States opposed this resolution in fundamental disagreement with its deeply flawed procedure and unacceptable content, in particular its OP para 6 regarding a so-called evidence-gathering mechanism.

The Resolution was directly contrary to the Council’s founding principles of impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity. It went well beyond the mandate that Member States conferred on it by UNGA Resolution 60/251. I have stated Sri Lanka’s views on this matter to this Council on 01 March.

We also submitted in a timely manner our comments on the High Commissioner’s report.

We note with regret that the Secretariat failed to publish this simultaneously with the High Commissioner’s written update.

Despite our rejection of the resolution, we will continue our voluntary international undertakings on human rights and engage with the United Nations, including with this Council.

As stated by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka to our Parliament on 18 January 2022, “We are a nation that respects international laws and conventions”. We have regularly shared our progress and challenges, in a candid and open exchange, with this council, and other relevant organs of the United Nations system.

“We are convinced that there are serious anomalies and weaknesses in the report presented to this Council by the High Commissioner. The fundamental deficiency is its intolerably intrusive character, impinging as it does on core functions and responsibilities of organs of the Sri Lankan State, overwhelmingly mandated by the people of our country at three successive elections. There is, as well, a clearly discernible element of discrimination, in that the Council would certainly not take it upon itself to embark on a similar inquisitorial procedure in respect of other Member States. This, in itself, strikes at the very root of the foundations of the United Nations system. The issue of uniformity and consistency of standards applied by the High Commissioner to Member States, irrespective of their size and influence, and in steadfast conformity with the essential principle relating to the sovereign equality of all members of the United Nations fraternity, is cynically transgressed in several portions of this report.

“To our minds, this is particularly disturbing because the strength and prestige of the United Nations, and especially the Human Rights Council, derive from the widespread regard of the international community, as a whole, for the moral and ethical basis underpinning the attitudes of the Council. We fervently believe that it is vitally important to retain this confidence undiminished, especially having regard to the fate of the Human Rights Commission, the predecessor of this Council. It is a matter for deep regret that numerous instances of unsubstantiated allegations and superficial conclusions insensitive to the complexity of ground situations have found their way into the report. We have commented on these in extensive detail in our written response.

“We are dismayed by the High Commissioner’s unwarranted onslaught on seminal institutions of our country which function under the aegis of Sri Lanka’s Constitution and legal system, emanating from a rich and varied cultural heritage, and are subject to stringent review processes which form an integral part of our tried and tested laws.

“There is also the question of use of limited resources in such a manner as to achieve optimal benefit for all of humanity at a time of unprecedented crisis. The colossal expenditure of millions of dollars in a partisan and specifically targeted pursuit of Sri Lanka is hardly consonant with this obvious imperative. It seems to us a great pity that the report shows scant regard for these considerations which appear to a wide swath of nations to be crucially important at this time.

“The government of Sri Lanka is firmly resolved to maintain the security and stability that we have restored for our people and ensure sustainable progress in an equitable manner. My country reaches out to the international community with the sincere exhortation to join us as partners on a footing of equality and mutual respect to face the challenges ahead.”



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BASL urges President to de-escalate tensions in different parts of country

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The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has called upon President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to instruct the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of tensions in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by the public.”

 “Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint”, the BASL has said in a media statement.

 “We also call upon you to ensure that steps are taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.”

The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police.

 The armed forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

Full text of the BASL letter to the President:

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) expresses its gravest concerns at the current situation at fuel stations throughout the country and the reports of several incidents of conflicts between civilians and members of the police force and the armed forces at fuel stations. There has been video footage of civilians being assaulted by personnel of the armed forces and the police, the latest being of a civilian being kicked by an Army officer at a fuel station. There have also been situations of the police and Army opening fire into the air to contain the crowd.

Your Excellency is no doubt aware that thousands of desperate civilians are waiting in queues at hundreds of fuel stations in the country. The queues are kilometres long. The tension at the fuel stations have arisen from this desperation for which there is no immediate solution in sight.

The BASL wishes to warn Your Excellency of the imminent dangers this situation could give rise to. The present unrest could result in a conflagration between civilians and members of the armed forces or the police. Some years ago, confrontations between members of the public and the armed forces resulted in the deaths of civilians. Such incidents between the members of the armed forces or the police and the civilians will discredit Sri Lanka’s armed forces and the police.

We call upon Your Excellency to take all necessary steps to give instructions to the Defence Secretary, the Commanders of the Tri Forces and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that there is an immediate de-escalation of the situation in different parts of the country – especially at fuel stations – understanding the difficulties faced by public. Whilst keeping in mind that the police and armed forces are acting under very trying circumstances, nevertheless it is necessary to give strict instructions to the police and the forces to desist from violence in dealing with the public and to act with utmost restraint. We also call upon you to ensure that steps be taken under the law to deal with errant officers who have subjected civilians to such violence.

The Sri Lanka Army and other service personnel must be deployed only in very limited circumstances as contemplated in the Criminal Procedure Code. The BASL is of the view that it is not appropriate for service personnel to be deployed in the present manner in matters which essentially should be managed by the Sri Lanka Police. The Armed Forces should also not be used to disturb or hinder peaceful protests as was seen last week in Galle.

We trust that this will receive the immediate attention of the Government as to do otherwise may otherwise result in unprecedented turmoil and harm.

The BASL believes that the ultimate solution to the situation at fuel stations is to be transparent with the public and to ensure an equitable and effective system of fuel distribution throughout the country.

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SC orders AG to submit report on fuel purchases and distribution

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By A.J.A. Abeynayake

A three-member Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices Vijith Malalgoda, Mahinda Samayawardena and Arjuna Obeysekera yesterday ordered the Attorney General to submit a report on fuel purchases, the distribution thereof and the sectors to be provided with fuel on a priority basis.

The Supreme Court made the order after considering two fundamental rights petitions presented by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

The BASL has requested the Supreme Court to direct the Cabinet of Ministers to consult all stakeholders and independent experts to formulate and implement the necessary policies, and to provide concessions in relation to the prices of essential goods and services to the people including LP gas, fuel, electricity, milk powder, medicines and food.

The petitions were filed by the President of the BASL Saliya Pieris PC, Deputy President Anura Meddegoda PC, former Secretary Rajeev Amarasuriya, Treasurer Rajindh Perera and the Assistant Secretary Pasindu Silva.

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A/L may be delayed by one month

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Education Minister Sushil Premajayantha told Parliament yesterday that although it had been scheduled to hold the G.C.E. A/L Examination 2022 in November this year, it could be further delayed by another month.

Responding to a question by MP Shantha Bandara, the Minister said: “The examination should be held at least after three months of releasing the results of the previous A/L exam because the students who need to sit it again should have enough time to prepare,” the Minister said.

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