Connect with us


SL stresses just balance between human rights and national security



49th Geneva session:

…reiterates opposition to evidence gathering mechanism

Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris has said that as elsewhere in the world, Sri Lanka endeavoured to strike a just balance between human rights and national security when dealing with terrorism.

The Minister said so at the 49th session of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council yesterday (01)

In his presentation, the academic reiterated Sri Lanka’s strong opposition to the so-called evidence-gathering mechanism, a measure that was strongly opposed by a number of countries. Such initiatives create disharmony both in the domestic and international arenas. It creates obstacles to reconciliation efforts, breeds hatred by reopening past wounds, and polarises society

The following is the text of FM’s statement: ” Sri Lanka is an active participant in the multilateral framework to realise the promotion and protection of human rights.

Fundamental rights are embodied in our Constitution, progressively advanced through our democratically elected organs of government and enforced through our independent judiciary. Despite multiple challenges we have faced from terrorism, we have restored peace, security and the rule of law throughout the country. Our democratic traditions and independent institutions ensure free and fair elections at regular intervals through universal adult franchise. We will further advance the considerable progress we have made in post-conflict recovery and healing. For this, we have put in place domestic institutions for reconciliation, accountability and social justice.

Through this Council, we have completed three mutually beneficial Universal Periodic Reviews, engaged in constructive dialogue with the Treaty Bodies, welcomed Special Procedures Mandate Holders, and held frank and open discussions with domestic and international interlocutors. We have benefitted from the considerable expertise available with the UN on human rights including through its technical cooperation and capacity building programmes. Through the UN country team, we value the ongoing support to our domestic processes on reconciliation and achievement of SDGs.

Through this cooperative interaction, and in line with our domestic framework and international obligations, we continue to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights and social justice for all our citizens, irrespective of ethnic and religious identity and political affiliation.

Despite the economic setbacks due to the Covid 19 pandemic, we continue to ensure our people’s right to development. Sri Lanka has improved its global rank by 7 positions according to the latest SDG Report. We appreciate the contribution made by our civil society partners, through their extensive grass-roots level outreach and expertise.

As a developing Member State of the international community, we brace ourselves to face the further adverse economic consequences of crises, such as the pandemic and the unravelling conflict in Europe, which will impact on our efforts to achieve the SDGs.

We are today in a period of review of the work of the Council. We reflect on whether the Council has been successful in overcoming the credibility gap that led to the downfall of its predecessor Commission.

The multilateral architecture for the implementation of human rights was progressively developed in the last decades. Consensus was forged on key principles which we consider sacrosanct, such as that the promotion and

protection of human rights should be guided by the principles of impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity, based on the sovereign equality of Member States. UNGA resolution 60/251 and HRC resolutions 5/1 and 5/2 also decided that the working methods of the Council shall be transparent, fair and impartial, and shall enable genuine dialogue.

In March 2021, the Council voted on Resolution 46/1 which was tabled without the consent of Sri Lanka as the country concerned. The consideration of this matter polarized and politicized this forum. In a startling departure from the mandate which the UN General Assembly originally conferred on this Council, operative paragraph 6 of this resolution refers to a so-called evidence-gathering mechanism, a measure that was strongly opposed by a number of countries. Such initiatives create disharmony both in the domestic and international arenas. It creates obstacles to reconciliation efforts, breeds hatred by reopening past wounds, and polarizes society.

Member States have mandated this Council and its Secretariat with a truly extensive array of helpful working methods to assist Governments in the promotion and protection of human rights. Sri Lanka has participated actively and constructively in those aspects of the Council’s work that have been productive and beneficial, and which have helped to ensure that our people live safer, longer, and more dignified lives. We reject those that are punitive, politicized, divisive, unhelpful and initiated due to extraneous reasons.

As elsewhere in the world, we endeavor to strike a just balance between human rights and national security when dealing with terrorism. Sri Lanka is convinced that counter-terrorism legislation must secure and protect the rights of persons subject to investigation detention and trial, and must not restrict democratic freedoms such as the freedom of expression. With these objectives in view, I recently presented a Bill in the Parliament of Sri Lanka which is an initial step in amending the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 43 years after it was promulgated.

We take particular objection to the use of voluntary funding which has the necessary consequence of undermining objectivity and detachment. Against this background, Sri Lanka once again reiterates its view that the evidence gathering mechanism established under OP 6 of resolution 46/1 is unhelpful to the people of Sri Lanka, will polarize Sri Lankan society, and adversely affect economic development, peace and harmony at a challenging time. It is an unproductive drain on Member State resources, at a time of severe financial shortfalls across the entire multilateral system including the High Commissioner’s Office.

On the 4th of March the Council will meet in an interactive dialogue on Sri Lanka. I look forward to sharing with you some thoughts on the written update on Sri Lanka.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Delisting of Tamil Diaspora groups irks some; explanation sought



Decision based on GoSL assurance given in Geneva last June

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera yesterday (14) said President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government should explain the rationale behind delisting several Tamil Diaspora groups and individuals.

“The timing of the government announcement really worries us,” Dr. Amarasekera said on behalf of the Federation of National Organizations (FNO). He said such moves couldn’t be simply justified on the basis of the forthcoming sessions of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council. The next UNHRC sessions are scheduled for September.

Recalling that he too strongly backed the stand taken by President Wickremesinghe with regard to US Ambassador Julie Chung’s opposition to measures the government adopted to counter violent protests, Dr. Amarasekera emphasised national security couldn’t be jeopardised by politically-motivated decisions.  The Defence and Foreign Ministries owed the public an explanation as regards the procedure adopted in delisting some Tamil diaspora groups and individuals.

The UK-based Global Tamil Forum (GTF), the British Tamil Forum (BTF) and the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) had been among those delisted, through an Extraordinary Gazette issued by the Ministry of Defence.National Freedom Front (NFF) spokesperson Mohammed Muzammil, MP, too, echoed Dr. Amarasekera’s concerns. Addressing a hastily arranged media briefing at NFF’s Pita Kotte party office, lawmaker Muzammil asked whether the government had received an undertaking from those delisted groups, and individuals, whether they would abandon the separatist agenda. Lawmaker Muzammil said President Wickremesinghe, who holds the defence portfolio, should address the concerns of those who felt betrayed by the disputed de-listing of those who propagated separatist ideology though the armed forces eradicated the LTTE in 2009.

Both Dr. Amarasekera and MP Muzammil pointed out that Tamil Makkal Theshiya Kutani leader C.V. Vignewaran, following a recent meeting with President Wickremesinghe, had declared that he received an assurance with regard to several of their demands.  They asked whether the de-listing of these organizations, and individuals, had been part of the agreement between Tamil political parties and President Wickremesinghe.

The Island

sought the views of Suren Surendiran of the GTF, who is among those delisted. The UK-based GTF spokesperson alleged that the entire process of designation of groups and individuals was arbitrary, irrational, and an outright abuse of the United Nations Regulations – aimed at suppressing freedom of speech and dissent, not just within Sri Lanka but also across the borders.

 “GTF and I were listed in 2014, delisted in 2015, re-listed in 2021 and re-delisted in 2022,” Surendiran said, declaring they remained committed to their original ideals meant to achieve justifiable aspirations of the Tamil-speaking people, and implementation of the 2015 accountability resolution.

Surendiran has sent us the following response:   “Every time when a resolution is passed at the UNHRC, calling for Accountability and Reconciliation, the Rajapaksas, be it Mahinda or Gotabaya, will proscribe us as an angry reaction and then realise that no other government or international institution, including progressive Sri Lankans of all communities, and the wider media, recognise these proscriptions and just before another UNHRC session, the sitting government will de-proscribe us. This has been the case since 2014.”

“GTF is grateful that the international community and many Sri Lankan stakeholders (including the media) ignored this listing for what it truly was.

“We did an estimation on the loss of foreign currency inward flow into Sri Lanka directly related to these proscriptions of 2014 and 2021, at least per annum the loss has been USD 300 mn to   half a billion dollars.

Former Presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Secretary of Defence Kamal Gunaratne, Former Foreign Minister G L Peiris and the notorious so called “terrorism expert” Rohan Gunaratna must explain these losses to the Sri Lankan people and held accountable for their arbitrary decisions and explain what benefits these proscriptions achieved.”

Authoritative sources said that contrary to concerns expressed by various iparties as regards the delisting of organizations and certain individuals, the decision to do so was announced by the former Foreign Affairs Minister Prof GL Peiris in mid-June this year at the 50th Geneva sessions. The Foreign Ministry quoted Prof. Peiris as having said: “The list of designated individuals, groups and entities under the United Nations Regulation No. 1 of 2012 is being reviewed. As of now 318 individuals and 04 entitles are proposed to be delisted. This is a continuing exercise.”

Sources said that it wouldn’t be fair to seek explanation from the incumbent government for a decision taken by the previous administration.

Continue Reading


Govt. trying to impress UNHRC – Vigneswaran



Tamil Peoples’ National Alliance (TPNA) leader MP C. V. Vigneswaran says President Ranil Wickremesinghe is in a hurry to rope in Tamil MPs w,ith an eye to the upcoming UNHRC session.

In a statement after meeting President Wickremesinghe the MP says: “He appeared to be in a hurry to rope in Jaffna MPs to be part of the Government, I suppose to showcase to Geneva! I don’t blame him. The Government has so far ignored its obligations to the UN as per Resolution 46/1. Although the President assured us that he will take action to implement our requests and invited us to join the Government, we felt the impending Geneva meeting was more important to him than solving the Tamils’ Problems.”

Full text of Wigneswaran’s statement: At the invitation of the President, I met his Excellency, along with our Party senior member Mr. S. Selvendra, at 4.30 PM, on 10th August 2022 at the Presidential Secretariat. The Prime Minister was also present.

The President explained to us at length his plan of governance which included a Parliamentary governance committee giving a greater role for the Provincial Governors. His idea was that all MPs from the Provinces must govern the respective Provinces under the Chairmanship of the Governors in terms of a National Agenda. He referred to Austria as an example. (His example was inappropriate. Austria is a Federal Country).

Further discussing grabbing of lands in Provinces by Central Government Ministries he agreed that there should be no forestry land that should be grabbed by Ministries and that we should focus on preserving the environment in each Province. He said, if need be a maximum of 2 acres could be taken over by the Government. I said no land should be appropriated by the Central Government in the Provinces except with the consent and concurrence of the respective Provincial Government. There was no response from His Excellency.

Regarding National Schools, he said 50 National Schools were enough for the Country not 1000 National Schools. I pointed out that no Provincial Schools could be taken over by the State and that our Alliance has already filed action in this regard.He appeared to be in a hurry to rope in Jaffna MPs to be part of the Government, I suppose to showcase to Geneva! I don’t blame him. The Government has so far ignored its obligations to the UN as per Resolution 46/1.

He wanted me to share a document which outlines the proposal on how money could be channeled into the Country from the Diaspora.It became apparent to us while discussing with him that his plan was to strengthen the central administrative control of the entire country, totally ignoring the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

I pointed out to the President that the Tamil people in this country expect the government to take speedy action to attend to their requests, submitted by all Tamil National party leaders which included the release of political prisoners; action to trace the missing persons; stop the activities of various government departments to grab Tamil lands and stop persons trying to build Buddhist temples in Tamil homeland with the help of the Military and so on.

It was also pointed out that in order to enable the Tamils to give political leadership and governance over their Provinces, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution should be implemented in full as a temporary measure until satisfactory constitutional reforms are made. We told the President that until this process is started in earnest satisfying the Tamil people, we will support the Government from the Opposition. There was no question of our becoming a part of the Government.

Although the President assured us that he will take action to implement our requests and invited us to join the Government, we felt the impending Geneva meeting was more important to him than solving the Tamils’ Problems.Nevertheless, we promised to forward the document he called for and took our leave to depart.

Continue Reading


 Arms, drug seizure from Lankan boat: Accused raised funds to revive LTTE, says NIA



KOCHI: In a major revelation in a case pertaining to the seizure of a huge quantity of narcotic drugs along with five AK-47 rifles and 9mm ammunition numbering 1,000 from Sri Lankan fishing boats, the NIA has stated that an accused had been involved in activities of proscribed terrorist organisation LTTE within India and abroad.

The accused had also plotted to procure prohibited arms and ammunition, besides contraband articles. The NIA filed the report in the Kerala High Court in response to the bail plea filed by Ramesh, a Sri Lankan native and eighth accused in the case.

The Coast Guard intercepted the boat, ‘Ravihansi’, near Minicoy Island, Lakshadweep, on March 18, 2021. There were no proper documents and six Sri Lankan nationals found on board were arrested by the Kochi sub zone of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on their arrival at Vizhinjam port in Thiruvananthapuram.The Central government directed the NIA to take over the probe and later the seventh and his brother and eighth accused were taken into custody, allegedly for being members of the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Ramesh revealed that he had stayed in India without a visa violating the provisions of the Foreigners Act.

According to NIA, Ramesh and the other accused, including his brother being a core cadre of the LTTE, held secret meetings and conspired to carry out illegal activities of trafficking in drugs and also arms and ammunition with the intention of raising funds to revive and further the activities of the LTTE, both in India and Sri Lanka, They formed a terrorist gang and transferred money through hawala channels for the procurement of drugs, arms and ammunition.

A witness in the case also spoke of the drug and hawala business carried out by the brothers and specifically referred to Ramesh having collected hawala money from a person named Faseel Bhai. While dismissing Ramesh’s bail plea, the court noted that the statements of the witnesses show not only his inextricable connection with the illegal activities but also his definite link with LTTE, with full knowledge and complicity in the attempt to smuggle heroin, arms and ammunition in the boat, intercepted before its entry into the port.

Continue Reading