The Sri Lankan government claimed to have made “significant progress in some key areas” at the UN Human Rights Council this week, where foreign minister G L Peiris met with the president of the council and requested “space for the country to deal with the present socio-economic issues”.
“We certainly recognize, as a core belief, that human rights are indivisible, interconnected and interdependent,” claimed Peiris in his address to the Council.
He went on to claim that Sri Lanka had made improvements in several regions, including releasing “more than 92% of private lands occupied by the military”, stating that “the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR) continued with its mandate in promoting reconciliation”, declaring the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) had “met more than 83% of persons invited for panels of inquiries as part of its verification process” and claiming his government remains “open to engaging with the diaspora community and with civil society organizations committed to the wellbeing of our country”.
His remarks came however just days after the Sri Lankan military attempted more land grabs, Sri Lankan security officers harassed a Tamil journalist, a prominent disappearances campaigner and activist spoke out against the OMP, and as military-sponsored Sinhalisation of the North-East continued.
Peiris went on to reiterate how Sri Lanka had rejected previous resolutions at the UN, including one that formed an evidence gathering mechanism that could be used to prosecute troops guilty of war crimes.
“In the past I have made clear that Sri Lanka rejects the so-called external evidence gathering mechanism introduced by HRC Resolution 46/1, adopted without our consent and that of other members of this Council,” he said.
“We reiterate our conviction that this mechanism will only serve to polarize and divide, and will be an unproductive and unhelpful drain on the resources of this Council and its Members.”
In his meeting with the President of the Human Rights Council, and Permanent Representative of Argentina, Federico Villegas, Peiris also Sri Lanka was looking for the “empathy and understanding of the international community”.
“Whilst stressing the need for space for the country to deal with the present socio-economic issues, he reiterated the political will and resolve to deal with obligations and move ahead,” said an official press release from Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry.