Sri Lanka rules out ‘external mechanism’ by UN human rights body

There is no need for “external mechanisms” to solve the issues of rights and accountability, Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Jayanath Colombage said, asserting that solutions to those problems are “available” within the country’s domestic legal system

Sep 17, 2021
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UN human rights body

There is no need for “external mechanisms” to solve the issues of rights and accountability, Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Jayanath Colombage said, asserting that solutions to those problems are “available” within the country’s domestic legal system. Foreign Minister GL Peiris two days back also made a similar statement.

The remark came on Thursday, days after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet gave an oral update on Sri Lanka during a UNHRC session where she sought “close attention on, concrete actions from" the island nation. 

Earlier in March, the UNHRC adopted a resolution that underscored a “persistent lack of accountability of domestic mechanisms”. 

The resolution also called for strengthening the capacity of the Office of the High Commissioner to “collect, consolidate, analyze, and preserve” information and evidence and to develop strategies for future accountability processes for gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Sri Lanka. 

In a press conference on Thursday, Colombage welcomed the positive comments made by Bachelet on progress which included measures of compensating relatives of missing persons, releasing Tamil political prisoners, and amendments in the Prevention of Terrorism Act. 

The foreign secretary also referred to the 15 members of the UNHRC who in March had condemned the intervention. 
  
Earlier on Tuesday this week, Foreign Minister Peiris had also said no external initiative would be able to fulfill its objectives without cooperation from the host country. And, in addition to that, he warned, those initiatives would be counterproductive, polarizing domestic polity and society. 

Sri Lanka has been in the crosshair of western countries and rights bodies ever since the Rajapaksa brothers returned to power in 2019. The current government has been accused of rolling back--and pushing back-- what little progress the island nation had achieved on providing justice to victims of the country’s three-decade-long civil war. 

Rights groups also highlighted increased militarization of civil affairs in the country, promotion, and reward to military generals accused of war crimes--an acquisition the Sri Lankan government denies. 

(SAM)