Speaking at 44th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, a delegate for Sri Lanka responded to the Core Group’s (UK, Canada, Germany, North Macedonia and Montenegro) expression of “profound disappointment” by insisting that Sri Lanka would only commit to purely domestic process aligned with the government’s policy framework.
Whilst claiming that Sri Lanka is committed to “reconciliation, accountability and human rights”, the government rejected the co-sponsorship of the UN resolution, implying it was against the interest of Sri Lanka and “driven externally”.
“We urge all parties once again to recognize the realities on the ground, and appreciate this approach of focusing on deliverable measures of reconciliation – which is backed by a people’s mandate and is in the interest of Sri Lanka and its people, instead of opting to continue with a framework driven externally that has failed to deliver genuine reconciliation for over four and half years”, the Sri Lankan delegate said.
Sri Lanka also added that as a symbol of its “commitment to constructive engagement” with the United Nations it would make a donation to the Office of the High Commissioner. It announced a donation totalling USD $5,000.
This follows a speech from the Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, in which criticised the previous administration for considering to their “foreign masters” by cosponsoring this human rights resolution.
The previous administration made little progress issues of reconciliation, accountability, and human rights. In March 2019, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report highlighting that “virtually no progress” was made towards accountability for war crimes. However the little progress that was made on these issues have come under attack from the new administration.
Since becoming President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa has threatened to withdraw from any global body which pursues the prosecution of Sri Lankan soldiers for war crimes and has pardoned the convicted war criminal, Sunil Rathnayake. Rathnayake who responsible for the Mirusuvil massacre where eight Tamil civilians were killed including three children.
Yasmin Sooka, executive director of the International Truth and Justice Project, has warned that in Sri Lanka “impunity is now so deeply embedded that it’s impossible to talk of any kind of institutional reform.”
Sri Lanka’s statement at the UN also follows the announcement of two heavily criticised, all Sinhala taskforces, which include senior military figures accused of serious war crimes and human rights abuses.
The delegate for Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry, concluded stating that Sri Lanka will curtail engagement with the UN to “building and technical assistance in mutually agreed areas”.
Read more from Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry.