The United Nations Human Rights Commissioner’s 17-page report which makes further indictments on Sri Lanka, will be debated at the Human Rights Council’s 49th sessions on March 3.
This report, which was forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombo, through UN channels last Monday, was studied by officials. Thereafter, they have sent to Geneva the Government’s observations and explanations on several issues raised.
Compared to last year’s report, that was followed by a resolution, this year’s one delves at length with the Government’s failure to make changes to the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) to meet international standards. The UNHRC is not pleased with the amendments that are now pending before Parliament and is displeased that necessary changes have not been effected despite repeated assurances by the Government.
There are fears that this may impact adversely on the GSP Plus preferential tariff facility from the European Union.
The European Parliament has already adopted a resolution calling for the temporary withdrawal of this facility. A hint of this emerged when the EU-Sri Lanka Joint Commission met in Brussels on February 8.
Among the new areas dealt with in the latest OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) Report are references to the 2019 Easter Sunday massacres. This is the result of initiatives by Colombo’s Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith. He is due to travel to the Vatican for a meeting with the Pope and will also visit the UNHRC in Geneva.
The Report has also called upon the Attorney General to function independently. This is the first time such an indictment has been made. The AG, it is pertinent to note, came in for criticism when the Colombo High Court acquitted former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and former Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundera. The AG had slapped down 855 charges against them but none has been proved.
There will be no voting at the UNHRC’s 49th sessions which begin on February 28. However, the meeting is a precursor to another Resolution on Sri Lanka in September, this year.
Disclaimer: UN Human Rights Chief’s report questions PTA; Easter bombing probe - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view