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Sri Lanka: ‘Colombo will work in cooperation with U.N.’

Wednesday 4 March 2015, by siawi3


COLOMBO, March 2, 2015
Updated: March 2, 2015 23:19 IST

Meera Srinivasan

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister briefs Human Rights Council on post-transition developments
Sri Lanka will take pointers from the U.N. report on Sri Lanka’s rights record for its domestic mechanism, the country’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera has said.

Addressing the high level segment of the 28th Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, the Minister briefed the Council on developments in Sri Lanka following the presidential election on January 8.
Pointing to the Maithripala Sirisena government’s efforts to ensure media freedom, Mr. Samaraweera said it unblocked websites that were earlier blocked, lifted restrictions placed on foreign media personnel visiting the country, enabled journalists to travel freely to all parts of the country and invited all media personnel living in exile to return.

The Human Rights Council, in March 2014, adopted a U.S.-sponsored resolution calling for an international probe into allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka. As many as 23 countries backed the resolution then, while 12 voted against it and 12 other countries, including India, abstained.

The Mahinda Rajapaksa administration then had refused any cooperation to the process and rejected the resolution. A year later, the Council, in a clear departure from its earlier stance on Sri Lanka, deferred the key report on the country’s conflict that was due for submission in the ongoing March sessions, to September 2015. The decision was to allow space for the new government to demonstrate its willingness to cooperate on human rights issues, it said.
Assuring the Council cooperation, Mr. Samaraweera said his government was committed to engaging and working in cooperation with “a range of international organisations and countries and seek solutions to issues through dialogue, cooperation, understanding and learning.” He said though the new government had achieved much during its 48 days in office, there were hurdles such as bureaucratic bottlenecks that derailed its initiatives. He added, “I assure this Council however that the political will and commitment required for this purpose has not diminished in any way.”