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UN resolution on Sri Lanka is same as two years ago, claims foreign minister

Sri Lanka’s foreign minister declared his government has “never done anything detrimental” to the country’s military, claiming an upcoming United Nations resolution is simply an extension of one previously passed two years ago, in an effort to allay Sinhala nationalist fears this week.

Foreign Affairs Minister Thilak Marapana told Sri Lanka’s parliament a resolution due to taken up by the UN Human Rights Council next week is the “same as the 2017 UNHRC Resolution where we extended the time till 2019”.

"The wording of the Resolution is the same, the only difference is that we have added the progress achieved during the past two years into it,” Marapana claimed.

Marapana went on to state his government did not agree with a report published by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which said Sri Lanka has made "virtually no progress" on the investigation of war crimes. The minister also claimed that his government had averted international sanctions on Sri Lanka, after a UN investigation launched in 2014 found credible reports of violations of international law. 

“As a result of the international inquiry in 2014, the international community was to impose economic sanctions and take various other adverse international steps against Sri Lanka in 2015, but we could avoid those adverse impacts after the Presidential Elections as we undertook to ensure human rights of the people through a domestic mechanism,” Marapana said. “The Government has never done anything detrimental to the country, the Tri-Forces and the people,” he further added. 

Instead, the minister claimed the current government had repaired Sri Lanka’s “international reputation” which laid “the foundation for long term economic development in cooperation with the European Union, Millennium Challenge Corporation and all other developed countries”.

“We could send our armed forces to the UN Peace Keeping Missions and to internationally-recognized foreign training programmes,” he added.”Several countries came forward to donate vessels to strengthen the Navy fleet. Prior to 2015, we did not have such opportunities.”

See more from the Daily News here.

His comments come as the UN Human Rights Council looks set to pass a resolution on Sri Lanka next week, though Sri Lanka’s leaders including the president have called for it to be withdrawn. The resolution will grant Sri Lanka a further two years to set up a hybrid accountability mechanism, as per a resolution it co-sponsored in 2015. Though it has been almost a decade since the end of the armed conflict, in which a massive Sri Lankan military offensive massacred tens of thousands of Tamils, no prosecutions have taken place.

Tamils across the North-East and around the world have protested against granting Sri Lanka a further extension, and have instead called for an international criminal justice process.