Sri Lankan foreign minister appeals for rejection of UN rights body resolution

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Colombo, Feb 24 (PTI) A top Sri Lankan minister has made a fervent appeal to the member states of the UNHRC to reject the impending resolution on the island nation’s human rights accountability and reconciliation, terming it a 'pure political move' against the country.

Addressing a UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session virtually on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena urged that the resolution be rejected by the council and brought to a closure.

The minister described the impending resolution as unsubstantiated and a “pure political move” against Sri Lanka.

Gunawardena’s remarks followed the country’s rejection of the UN rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s report which had called for drastic measures such as targeted sanctions and international criminal court procedure against those allegedly responsible for rights violations during the last phase of the armed conflict with the LTTE in 2009.

A draft of the resolution is expected to be tabled at the UNHRC sessions on Wednesday, officials here said.

The officials said they believe that the nature of the resolution would be identical to the 30/1 resolution passed in 2015 which the then Sri Lanka government had co-sponsored. The current government elected in November 2019 withdrew from co-sponsorship of the resolution last year.

The draft resolution is expected to include moves by the Office of the High Commissioner to enhance its monitoring and reporting on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, including progress on reconciliation and accountability.

It is also expected to present a written update to the Human Rights Council at its 49th session, and a comprehensive report including further options for advancing accountability at its 51st session, both to be discussed in interactive dialogues.

The current government’s election mandate given by the people of Sri Lanka was meant to withdraw from the previous resolution while remaining engaged with UN mechanisms.

Sri Lanka has reportedly lobbied some 18 member states for the appeal for rejection.

Early this week, Foreign Ministry Secretary Jayanath Colombage said a special written request had been forwarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking India’s support on behalf of Sri Lanka to defeat the resolution.

His comments came after the UNHRC Core Group on Sri Lanka, in a joint statement, said a resolution would be moved next week to focus on Sri Lanka's rights accountability.

The Sri Lanka Core Group consists of the UK, Germany, Canada, Malawi, North Macedonia and Montenegro.

The previous Sri Lankan government, headed by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, had co-sponsored the resolution in 2013, calling for accountability in alleged war crimes committed by the government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam during the final phase of the near-three-decade-long civil war in May 2009.

The current government, led by Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, has officially withdrawn from the resolution. PTI CORR MRJ MRJ