India incorporates two amendments for promoting reconciliation and accountability

: India on Thursday voted for a United States-sponsored resolution at the United Nation's top human rights body censuring Sri Lanka for its alleged rights violations during the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

India initially showed reluctance to vote on a nation-specific resolution but changed its stand after political parties in Tamil Nadu exerted pressure on the United Progressive Alliance government to go with the resolution. The DMK, in particular, threatened to pull out its Ministers from the Cabinet on the issue.

With 24 votes for, 15 against and 8 abstentions, the 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted the resolution, which noted with concern that an internal inquiry report in Sri Lanka did not adequately address “serious allegations” of violations of international law.

The resolution asked Colombo to present expeditiously a comprehensive action plan detailing the steps to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and to address alleged violations of international law.

Informed sources said India decided to vote after persuading the resolution- sponsor to make two changes in the draft so that it became “non-intrusive” and contributed to political reconciliation process in the island nation.

India did not participate in the debate, but voted with countries like Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Uruguay. Many of India's neighbours, including China, Bangladesh and Maldives, and Russia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia were among the countries that voted against the resolution, which asked Colombo to implement the LLRC's constructive recommendations.

In a veiled attack on India, Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris, who was present during the voting, said the most distressing feature was the reality that voting at the Council was now determined not by the merits of a particular issue but by strategic alliances and domestic political issues in other countries, an apparent reference to the politics in Tamil Nadu.

However, Indian sources pointed out that it was successful in bringing about the change in the resolution to add a paragraph that said “recalling Council resolutions 5/1 and 5/2 on institution building of the Human Rights Council” to give a context.

The other change was in reference to the wording of the last para of the resolution, which speaks of providing advice and technical assistance on implementing the steps suggested in the resolution.

The amendment makes it clear that advice and technical assistance will be provided “in consultation with and with the concurrence of” the government of Sri Lanka that made the resolution “non-intrusive,” the Indian sources said. Tabling the resolution, the U.S. said Colombo was given three years to hold its own investigations into allegations of serious violations but given the lack of action it was appropriate that the Council be pushed to do so. Sri Lanka's Special Envoy on Human Rights, Mahinda Samarasinghe, rejected the resolution, saying it was “misconceived, unwarranted and ill-timed” embodying several “harmful” elements that violated important principles having adverse ramifications to his country and to others.

Warning that the resolution would be counter-productive, he said it would undermine the principle of non-interference in matters within the domestic jurisdiction of the country, a point backed by China and Russia. — PTI

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