SL thankful to member states for positive engagement – UPR adopted (15.03.2013)

UPDATE : SL thankful to member states for positive engagement; UPR adopted
(15.03.2013 16:07 SLT – adaderana.lk)

UPDATE : The UPR report of Sri Lanka was adopted at the 22ndsession of the UNHRC in Geneva a short while ago.

Addressing the UNHRC Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe thanked the member states of the UNHRC for their positive engagement during the Universal Periodic Review while highlighting the concerns of the country regarding misinformation.

Minister Samarasinghe stated that the country was thankful to member states that acknowledged its progress last November in terms of the stride Sri Lanka had made following the war.

Apart from a series of recommendations made by the Council the Minister stated that Sri Lanka had made a number of voluntary commitments as well.

He reminded the council that Sri Lanka had accepted 110 of the recommendations made by the Council while an additional 3 recommendations enjoyed the support of Sri Lanka whereas 91 other recommendations were not accepted by the country.

Furthermore, he added that Sri Lanka had accepted 12 recommendation pertaining to the implementation of the recommendations set out by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).

In his address, Minister Samarasinghe stated that the achievements of Sri Lanka in terms of resettlement were perhaps unparalleled while he informed the Council that the Attorney General had directed the police to commence non-summary proceeding on the disappearance of five students and the killing of the ACF workers.

The Minister pointed out that several parties had published arbitrary figures concerning civilian casualties and assured the Council that the National census that was conducted in 2010/2011 would be important in shedding light on this matter.

Sri Lanka also assured the member states that it will soon publish a report on the progress made by the country during the first year of the National Human Rights Action plan.

He concluded by stating that Sri Lanka was deeply grateful to member states for their positive engagement during the UPR while stressing that the country will continue its transparent relationship with the UNHRC and keep member states and observer states informed on its progress.

He added that Sri Lanka expected a positive outcome during the sessions to follow that would benefit the people of Sri Lanka.


Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe

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Why IC keeps mum on LTTE atrocities : SL
(15.03.2013 18:18 SLT – dailymirror.lk)

Presidential Special Envoy for Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe while saying that the country does not believe “That everything is fine” urged for the international community to give the country “time and space” to ensure overcome the ensuing challenges.

Answering a question during the sessions at the Universal Periodic Review at the 22nd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Geneva today Sri Lanka also asked the International Community as to why “it keeps silent on the atrocities committed by the LTTE.”

Following is the full statement at the Adoption of the Report of the UPR Working Group by Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe at the 22nd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council :

Mr. President,

My delegation and I join you this morning with a deep sense of satisfaction. November 2012 saw Sri Lanka face its second UPR and we were able to lay before the working group, our progress since 2008 and the expectations for future improvements in the promotion and protection of human rights, going forward. We have come a long way since the initial Universal Periodic Review of Sri Lanka during the first cycle in 2008. My country then was engaged in a conflict against terrorism – commencing in 2006 – trying to rescue a civilian population held by a ruthless group of terrorists. A year after that first review, we finally achieved success in the humanitarian operation and witnessed the dawn of a new era of peace, stability and prosperity for all Sri Lankans. Since May 2009 we engaged in a period of consolidation, removing military involvement in civil administration, reconstruction, demining, rehabilitation, resettlement and launched our initial efforts at national reconciliation and peace-building.

Mr. President, the UPR has been an event in which we have been able to periodically pause, take stock, reflect and share with our friends in the Human Rights Council our achievements, challenges and determination to move forward. The interest and level of participation in the UPR of Sri Lanka is also sincerely appreciated. We noted that a clear majority of the countries that engaged in the UPR last November acknowledged our progress. Some of the countries that did so also pointed out the challenges that we faced. We were able to take up some of the constructive recommendations made and we also made voluntary commitments.

To sum up, Mr President, Sri Lanka received a total of 204 recommendations during the second cycle of its UPR held last November. At the adoption of the report in the Working Group, Sri Lanka accepted 110 recommendations and following further examination, Sri Lanka decided to support a further 3 recommendations, bringing the total number of recommendations enjoying our support to 113.

Another 91 recommendations do not enjoy the support of Sri Lanka. Our position on the recommendations we were unable to support are clearly set out in the Addendum to the Report of the Working Group A/HRC/22/16/Add.1. The Addendum further clarifies and elaborates Sri Lanka’s stance on some of the recommendations emanating from the Review. These recommendations have been duly noted and Sri Lanka will endeavour to address these issues through relevant national policies and programmes. In addition, Sri Lanka has also made 19 voluntary commitments.

In this context, I must point out that Sri Lanka has accepted the 12 recommendations specifically referring to the National Action Plan for the implementation of the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), which is our mechanism to implement the recommendations of the LLRC. It is perhaps unfortunate that we were unable to agree to more refinements and modifications in the text of some recommendations in order to achieve a consensus that could have led to the acceptance of more recommendations. It is our belief that the level of flexibility that characterized our experience in 2008, is preferable to the rigid textual formality that appears to govern the UPR at present.  The UPR is an inter-governmental process that is based on cooperation and constructive engagement.

I would also briefly allude to some of the positive developments since November. Much of the salutary achievements are also referred to in our national statement to the High Level Segment of the 22nd Session at the end of February.

As I stated on that occasion, the Government of Sri Lanka has also made requisite financial provision by budgetary allocation for 2013 for the implementation of the National Action Plan on the Implementation of the recommendation of the LLRC. Over Rs. 1.2 billion, has been committed to funding the various activities. Our progress in the process of implementation is openly shared with anyone interested by way of publication on the web. This is the level of commitment we have shown.

We have consolidated our gains in resettlement. Our achievement is, perhaps, unparalleled given the short period in which progress was accomplished.

In the overall process of accountability which was the subject of some interventions during the working group session, the first issue that must be addressed is that of the arbitrary figures of so-called civilian victims. These figures have been repeated by several sources without once verifying the facts.

This is why our national census of 2012 and the enumeration in the North preceding it in 2011 were of such importance. Ground verification of facts is continuing into the results of these processes. We believe we will be able to gain an accurate picture of the several causes of civilian deaths.

A Cabinet Memorandum titled “Assistance and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses Bill” was submitted by the Ministry of Justice and was taken up for policy approval at the Meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers held on 07 February 2013. It was decided to obtain the views of the Attorney General on this matter to aid in the deliberations of the Cabinet.

Subsequent to the recommendations of the LLRC, the Attorney-General reviewed the cases relating to the five (5) students from Trincomalee and of the Action Contre La Faime (ACF) workers. Having concluded the work on the five sudents from Trincomalee, the Attorney-General has directed the Police to commence Non-Summary Judicial proceedings. The review with regard to the ACF case is also ongoing.

Also on the question of accountability, inquiries are in train by the military authorities as to questions of civilian casualties during the humanitarian operation including the Channel 4 video footage irrespective of its authenticity.

Further to the recommendation of the LLRC, the database on detainees is available to next of kin (NoK) who are able to obtain details in response to their inquiries. The investigations into those allegedly disappeared are ongoing through national mechanisms.

As we have regularly informed this Council, the National Plan of Action for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (NHRAP), was a commitment that grew out of our initial Review in 2008. That was a principal pledge we made and one that we spent considerable time and effort in realizing. December 2012 marked the first year of implementation of the NHRAP. We are currently engaged in an evaluation of the first year and will shortly publish our progress. The NHRAP was conceived of as an overarching measure to consolidate our gains and to systematically address the various issues and challenges in the field of human rights.

We will now have to conceive of a national mechanism that will take into consideration the recommendations supported and pledges made consequent to the adoption of the Report before the Council on this occasion. We are confident that we can incorporate the outcome document into our national plans and programmes of action, so that, by 2017 when we next face a Review, that we will be able to demonstrate further advances in the promotion and protection of human rights for the benefit of the Sri Lankan people.

I reiterate what I said earlier that Sri Lanka is deeply appreciative of Member and Observer States for their interest and positive engagement during its UPR Process as well as their acknowledgement of our efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights. As with the UPR, Sri Lanka will continue its transparent, proactive and constructive engagement with the Human Rights Council and keep Member and Observer States informed of further developments in Sri Lanka in the field of promotion and protection of human rights.

I look forward to the engagement during the ensuing hour and expect a positive outcome that will accrue to the benefit of the multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multicultural people of Sri Lanka.

Thank you for your attention.

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VIDEO : Russia commends Sri Lanka’s readiness to engage in dialog
(15.03.2013 18:57 SLT – adaderana.lk)

Russia today (15.03.2013) said that Sri Lanka’s second UPR cycle has “once again” confirmed Colombo’s “openness and readiness” to engage in a constructive dialog on an equal footing on the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.

The representative of the Russian Federation at the UNHRC stated that Sri Lanka has agreed with a majority of the recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and that the recommendations accepted are “truly constructive and non-politicized” in nature.

“We thank the delegation for its detailed arguments explaining why each of the non-accepted recommendations is not being accepted  and we are satisfied to note that some of these recommendations may be looked at by the authorities of the country with a view to subsequent implementation following detailed study,” he said.

“In addition we much appreciate the government’s list of voluntary commitments on many aspects of human rights,” the representative said, delivering a statement at the adoption of the UPR Report on Sri Lanka.

The Russian Federation recommended the adoption of the report on Sri Lanka’s second UPR cycle.

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VIDEO : US ‘disappointed’ over Sri Lanka’s rejection of recommendations
(15.03.2013 18:02 SLT – adaderana.lk)

The US today (15.03.2013) expressed disappointment over Sri Lanka’s rejection of recommendations by UPR states calling for the implementation of the LLRC recommendations.

During the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Sri Lanka, a number of States had called for the implementation of the recommendations of Sri Lanka’s own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), the delegation of the United States of America said at the 22nd Session Human Rights Council.

“We are disappointed that the Government rejected all UPR recommendations from States that called upon it to implement the LLRC recommendations,” Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe said, delivering a statement at the adoption of the UPR Report on Sri Lanka.

The US also criticized the Sri Lankan delegation’s attempt to “reframe” Sri Lanka’s human rights commitments in terms of the government’s National Plan of Action, which it claims does not address the “broad spectrum of recommendations” put forward by the LLRC report.

The US also accused the Lankan delegation of lobbying other delegations to revise their UPR recommendations to exclude reference to the LLRC report, “after they had been orally presented”.

“Major changes were made to the substance of recommendations after the interactive dialogue. This is inconsistent with the transparent, interactive character of the UPR,” Ambassador Donahoe said commenting on Sri Lanka’s responses to the UPR review.

The US also stated that it was “disappointed” that the Sri Lankan Government rejected nearly all recommendations regarding engagement and cooperation with UN special procedures mandate holders.

“We urge the government to expeditiously implement both the UPR and LLRC recommendations,” Ambassador Donahoe said.

U.S. Statement at the Adoption of the UPR Report on Sri Lanka :

We welcome the Government’s statement of its intention to accept recommendations to combat gender-based violence, to carry out an independent and credible investigation into the allegations of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and to strengthen the independence of institutions, including the Human Rights Commission, Police Commission, and Election Commission.

During the review, a number of States called for the implementation of the recommendations of Sri Lanka’s own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).  We are disappointed that the Government rejected all UPR recommendations from States that called upon it to implement the LLRC recommendations.

Further, the Sri Lankan delegation attempted to reframe Sri Lanka’s human rights commitments in terms of the government’s National Plan of Action, which does not address the broad spectrum of recommendations put forward by the LLRC report, and by lobbying other delegations to revise their UPR recommendations to exclude reference to the LLRC report after they had been orally presented.

Major changes were made to the substance of recommendations after the interactive dialogue. This is inconsistent with the transparent, interactive character of the UPR.

We are also disappointed that the Government rejected nearly all recommendations regarding engagement and cooperation with UN special procedures mandate holders.

We urge the government to expeditiously implement both the UPR and LLRC recommendations.

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VIDEO : UK concerned over independence of the judiciary in Sri Lanka
(15.03.2013 17:11 SLT – adaderana.lk)

The United Kingdom today (15.03.2013) welcomed Sri Lanka’s response to recommendations following its Universal Periodic Review (UPR), however expressed concern regarding the freedom of expression in the island nation.

“We welcome Sri Lanka’s acceptance of UK’s recommendations to fully and transparently investigate alleged grave breaches in international humanitarian law during the conflict,” the representative from UK said addressing the UN Human Rights Council.

The UK expressed hope to the see the fulfillment of the recommendations “as soon as possible, given the lack of transparency in procedures to date”.

“However, we have serious concerns about freedom of expression in Sri Lanka given the recent attacks on a number of journalists,” the UK said.

The representative further said that the rejection of UK’s recommendation to ensure that “all citizens are able to freely express their opinions and beliefs without fear of reprisal and retribution and to invite the special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression to visit,” requires further explanation from Sri Lanka.

“Given Sri Lanka’s statement that it stands ready to facilitate the visit of the High Commissioner of Human Rights to Sri Lanka and that human rights defenders enjoy every protection of their rights, the UK fails to see why the government of Sri Lanka cannot accept this recommendation in full,” he said.

The UK also voiced its concern that no justification has been given by Sri Lanka for the rejection of recommendations relating to the independence of the judiciary.

“The impeachment of the Chief Justice ran contrary to the clear rulings of Sri Lanka’s highest courts and the proceeding appeared to contravene principles of fairness, due process and respect for the independence of the judiciary,” the UK said.

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VIDEO : Respect the sovereignty of Sri Lanka – China
(15.03.2013 16:33 SLT – adaderana.lk)

China called on the International Community to respect the sovereignty of Sri Lanka and provide assistance to rebuild the country. Speaking at the 22ndsession of the UNHRC during the debate on the UPR of Sri Lanka China also added that the international community should avoid external interference into the internal matters of Sri Lanka.

Also speaking at the session Oman stated that Sri Lanka has shown the willingness to coporate with the international community by accepting the recommendations of the UPR. Oman recommended the council to adopt the UPR report at the UNHRC.

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VIDEO : Progress by SL far outweigh the challenges – Pakistan at UNHRC
(15.03.2013 16:16 SLT – adaderana.lk)

Speaking during the UPR debate on Sri Lanka, Pakistan stated that the progress made by the Sri Lankan government after the end of the conflict far outweighed the challenges the country face currently. Pakistan also added that the international community should do the due role in commending Sri Lanka’s progress.

We are encouraged greatly by the fact that Sri Lanka has made 19 voluntary commitments regarding the National Action Plan to implement the LLRC recommendations, Pakistan added. The Pakistan Delegations also stated these commitments include the recognition of the rights of women and the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-combatants. These show serious signs of commitment by the Sri Lankan government.

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Govt. had ignored half of the LLRC recommendations – HRW
(15.03.2013 16:57 SLT – adaderana.lk)

Government of Sri Lanka has ignored nearly 50% of the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, Human Right Watch pointed our addressing the UNHRC a short while ago.

Furthermore, HRW stated that the LLRC report was not satisfactory in itself in addressing several issues of alleged war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan army but the government had failed to implement the recommendations laid out by the commission set out by the government itself.

The government has furthermore failed to address basic recommendations including that of Thailand in which Sri Lanka was advised to strengthen legislative measures to reduce impunity within the country.

HRW added that the government had also failed to accept recommendations which would protect Human Rights activists in the country.

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VIDEO : Post-war Sri Lanka marked by “state-sponsored Sinhala Buddhist triumphalism”
(15.03.2013 23:13 SLT – adaderana.lk)

Expressing concern that the post-war period has been marked by “state-sponsored Sinhala Buddhist triumphalism,” Christian human rights groups today called on Sri Lanka to put an end to all abductions, forcible disappearances and the “rising violence against religious minorities”.

“Jubilee Campaign together with Christian Solidarity Worldwide expresses its grave concern that the period since the end of the war in Sri Lanka has been marked by state-Sponsored Sinhala Buddhist triumphalism, the weakening of democratic institutions and rule of law, the constriction of civil and political riots, abductions and forcible disappearances and a wide-spread climate of fear among human rights defenders and journalists,” a representative for the nonprofit organizations said addressing the UNHRC.

He stated that there has been a “deterioration” with regard to the freedom of religion or belief in Sri Lanka.

“The attack on a mosque in Dambulla by a mob led by extremist Buddhist monks has reignited concern about targeted violence against religious minorities in Sri Lanka.”

“Incidents of violence against Christian churches after declining in number for nearly 10 years are once again rising.”

“Recent rhetoric and attacks by Bodu Bala Sena, which is acting aggressively and with apparent impunity give rise to fresh concerns.”

The human rights organisations, which focus on religious freedom, alleged that there are increasing “restrictions” on peaceful and legitimate religious activities.

Delivering a statement at the adoption of the UPR Report on Sri Lanka, the human rights groups stated that the construction of religious buildings and conduct of religious activities in Sri Lanka are subject to “non-legislative circulars” from 2008 and 2012, issued by the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

”They grant discretionary authority to local officials to determine on an arbitrary basis the legitimacy of religious activities and are implemented in a manner which is discriminatory against even angelical churches,” the representative said, addressing the 22nd session of the UN human Rights Commission today.

Charging that an increasing number of churches are being closed down by local officials, Jubilee Campaign (JC) and Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) urged Sri Lanka to issue a standing invitation to all special procedures mandates including to accept all outstanding visit requests.

“Sri Lanka must put an end to all abductions and forcible disappearances,” said Jubilee Campaign USA, submitting its analysis of religious freedom and human rights in Sri Lanka, as a contribution to the Universal Periodic Review of Sri Lanka.

“Sri Lanka should ensure that the process of promoting national reconciliation takes into account the need to protect Sri Lanka’s ethnic and religious pluralism and put an end to rising violence against religious minorities.”

Jubilee Campaign holds consultative status at the United Nations from the Economic and Social Council, allowing it to participate in international bodies such as the UN General Assembly in New York, the Human Rights Council in Geneva, and the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

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