South Asia

U.N. agenda ill-conceived: Rajapaksa

Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa addresses the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: John Minchillo

Lashing out at the U.N. Human Rights Council Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa — in his address to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday — said the probe into Sri Lanka’s rights record, mandated by the Council, was ill-motivated and lacked balance.

His address in New York came around the same time as the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein’s oral update on Sri Lanka, at the ongoing 27th session of the Council in Geneva.

International probe

Amid mounting international pressure, Sri Lanka has refused cooperation to the international investigation — adopted by the Council in March — that seeks to probe an estimated 100,000 civilian deaths during the final phase of the island’s civil war that ended in 2009.

“Post-conflict Sri Lanka has also become an unfortunate victim of ill-conceived agendas of some in the Human Rights Council,” Mr. Rajapaksa said in his address to the 193-member U.N. General Assembly, adding that the body was overlooking Sri Lanka’s “substantial progress” since the war ended in 2009.

“There is an obvious lack of balance and proportion in the manner in which my country is being targeted today,” he said, according to a statement released by his office.

Observing that external intervention without adequate consideration of the structures in a society and cultural traditions of the countries inevitably resulted in detribalisation, the Sri Lankan President said the Council’s approach towards Sri Lanka was in sharp contrast to that toward situations involving humanitarian emergencies elsewhere.

While the Sri Lankan government simultaneously initiated a domestic mechanism, the U.N. Right Chief Mr. Al-Hussein has observed that a more fundamental and far-reaching accountability process in Sri Lanka, addressing both past and ongoing violations, is absolutely necessary for Sri Lankans to come to terms with their past, end impunity, achieve reconciliation between communities and strengthen the rule of law.

‘A flawed process’

Responding, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the U.N., Geneva, Ravinatha Aryasinha said the oral update was “replete with accusations and unsubstantiated statistics”. The Government of Sri Lanka does not wish to help legitimise a flawed process and have a detrimental precedents established, he said, and hence “had to respectfully refuse those who urge that Sri Lanka cooperate with the OHCHR investigation.”

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 10:28:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/south-asia/mahinda-rajapaksa-accuses-un-human-rights-council-of-illconceived-agendas-against-sri-lanka/article6445579.ece

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