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Govt rejects external HR probes, mechanisms

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The Government yesterday reiterated that it will not agree with the special ad-hoc mechanism being established under the Office of UN Human Rights High Commissioner to monitor Sri Lanka and gather evidence against the country for use in an international tribunal.

It is entirely contrary to the letter and the spirit of UN system to endeavour to usurp the functions and responsibilities that are being attended to from day to day by local institutions to which those functions have been entrusted by the laws of Sri Lanka, said Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris briefing ambassadors and High Commissioners based in Colombo.

“Sri Lanka rejects the establishment of an external mechanism when domestic processes were ongoing. They must be given the space to continue their work without hindrance and impediment. That is one of the cornerstones of the UN system. It is reflected in UN seminal documents. Those rudimentary principles must not be departed from with regard to Sri Lanka,” Minister Prof. Peiris said.

Foreign Minister Peiris while commenting on the UN Human Rights Chief’s update on Sri Lanka at the 48th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva said that country has nothing to hide and the Government is always ready share information at every point.

“Sri Lanka’s position has been very clear and explicit. We will share information at every point and we will invite the relevant dignitaries to visit out country and see for themselves the situation on the ground. We have nothing to hide,” Prof Peiris said.

He said that Sri Lanka would take the initiative in requesting assistance from UNHRC or any other UN body if such assistance is required.

The Minister while commenting on UN Human Rights Commissioner’ remarks that she had in her possession 120,000 items of evidence against Sri Lanka, said that Sri Lanka has not been given any opportunity to test the veracity and dependability of these allegations.

“Is this compatible with basic elements of due process? There are in all civilized legal systems very clear principles with regard to assessing evaluating and reliability of evidence. This is not restricted to any culture. But the culture underpinning Western system sometimes going further than other legal systems has placed highest emphasis on procedural fairness,” he added.

He said that the Government is not aware as to who is making these allegations. “People lurking in the shadows and under the cover of anonymity are making allegations which are then treated as the gospel truth and the case against a sovereign state is being built up at the expense of UN system on the basis of s evidence collected in this clandestine manner which is at variance with basic principle of justice and fairness.”

At the outset the Minister appreciated his first opportunity to meet with the entire diplomatic corps collectively following his assumption of duties as Foreign Minister some weeks ago. Due to the previously prevailing COVID-19 situation, such a meeting could not take place earlier as he would have wished, the Minister stated. The objective of the meeting was to cordially brief the diplomatic community on recent developments of interest to them.

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