Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mangala Samaraweera addressing the High Level segment on the opening day of the 28th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, on 2nd March 2015 in Geneva briefed the Council on developments in Sri Lanka following the presidential election on 8th January and the new Government taking office. The Minister noted the Government was committed to engage and work in cooperation with a range of international organisations and countries and seek solutions to issues through dialogue, cooperation, understanding and learning.
Mr. Jayantha Dhanapala, Senior Advisor on Foreign Affairs to the President of Sri Lanka visited Geneva from 27th – 29th January 2015.
He met the High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, President of the Human Rights Council Joachim Rücker, as well as all members of the Human Rights Council in Groups.
Sri Lanka reiterates its supports the adoption of a Declaration which would demonstrate the commitment and efforts of the international community for the promotion and protection of the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas.
Sri Lanka made this intervention at the First Informal Consultation of the Open-ended Working Group on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas at the Human Rights Council on 12 November 2014 in Geneva.
Following the News Release yesterday (7 November 2014) by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights condemning disinformation designed to discredit the UN investigation on Sri Lanka, the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva has sent the attached communication to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in this regard.
Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha, has said Sri Lanka which took over the chair of the Colombo Process (CP) one year ago was of the view that if it were to make a difference and ensure that some real benefits would accrue to the people of the member countries, it was important that they address the tough issues, including 'Ethical Labour Recruitment Practices'. He noted that in ongoing deliberations the CP is seeking to harmonize existing national regulatory frameworks, promote Standard Employment Contracts (including addressing issue of contract substitution and create a registration mechanism for contracts), consider common minimum wage levels, and conditions that promote health and well-being and insurance protection, and to develop a common position on ethical recruitment practices.
Ambassador Aryasinha made these observations and reviewed the progress made by the CP under Sri Lanka's leadership, when he addressed an Expert Consultation on Recruitment Practices and their Impact on Human Rights of Migrants, held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on 31 October 2014. The consultation was convened by Mr. Francois Crepeau, Special Repporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants and was attended by diplomats, academics, representatives of the ILO and IOM, Recruitment specialists, as well as NGOs involved in the field.
Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and Leader of the Sri Lanka delegation to the Human Rights Committee Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha asked the Human Rights Committee to “judge Sri Lanka in proportion to the challenges Sri Lanka has continued to face as a country emerging from a 30 year terrorist conflict".
The Ambassador made this observation in responding to comments made during the consideration of Sri Lanka's 5th Periodic Report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) by the Human Rights Committee, which was held on 7-8 October 2014 in Geneva. The Human Rights Committee comprises a body of independent experts from 18 countries that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by its State parties.
Responding to a question raised by the Committee as to why the PTA is still in existence in Sri Lanka, Ambassador Aryasinha said Sri Lanka does not shy away from making considered choices and is adept at differentiating, in the best interest of its people. He recalled that notwithstanding security concerns, the government had speedily resettled almost all internally displaced persons, that out of approximately 12,000 LTTE ex-combatants who have been reintegrated into society, all but 114 are undergoing rehabilitation, and 84 are under legal proceedings, and that in 2011 the government had allowed emergency to lapse, which at the time many felt was too hasty. In spite of concerns raised, the Government of Sri Lanka had taken these calculated risks. He said, the government had to keep the PTA in effect, albeit reluctantly, due to recent incidents pointing to attempts at the resurgence of terrorism in Sri Lanka with involvement of external networks. He pointed out that such caution was also taken by many governments who have had to face the threat of terrorism.
Responding to the ‘Oral Update’ on Sri Lanka by the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva today (25 September 2014), Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha said “the Government of Sri Lanka does not wish to help legitimize a flawed process and have a detrimental precedents established”, and hence “has to respectfully refuse those who urge that Sri Lanka cooperate with the OHCHR investigation.”
He said this position has been taken after much consideration and represents not only the will of the Sri Lankan people as reflected in the motion recently adopted in the Parliament with an overwhelming majority, but also the majority within the Human Rights Council, who refused to support Operational Paragraph 10 of HRC resolution 25/1 which created an OHCHR investigation on Sri Lanka in March 2014.
Sri Lanka believes that the only way to achieve success in the process of drafting a Declaration on right to peace should be through consensus, based on established principles of international law.
Sri Lanka made this observation at the General Debate under Agenda Item 5 on the Report of Inter-Governmental Working Group on the Right to Peace at the 27th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Intervening in the interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons at the 27th UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 9th September 2014, Sri Lanka reiterated its full commitment to address the increasing challenges of the ageing population, and reaffirms its unwavering commitment to upholder the rights, dignity and the wellbeing of the older persons.
Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva and Leader of the Sri Lanka delegation Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha addressing 27th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva today (8 September 2014), welcoming the new High Commissioner Zeid Bin Ra'ad Al-Hussein on his appointment, said, "his wide experience in diplomacy, in-depth knowledge of the UN system and understanding and respect for social and cultural characteristics are useful assets that will guide the work of the OHCHR, consistent with the IB package and based on the fundamental principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity, non‑selectivity, constructive international dialogue and cooperation". He observed that "despite Sri Lanka's non-recognition of the politically motivated resolution on Sri Lanka during HRC 25, Sri Lanka would continue to engage with the regular mechanisms of the Council, and looked forward to the opportunity to engage during Sri Lanka's fifth periodic report under the ICCPR next month -October 2014".
Sri Lanka has strongly rejected the inference that the presence of the military contributes to the insecurity of women and girls in the former conflict-affected areas.
Exercising a 'Right of Reply' with regard to the statement made during the General Debate under Agenda Item 4 by Canada, claiming ‘ongoing use of rape and sexual violence by Sri Lankan security forces against perceived government opponents,’ Sri Lanka said this claim is not substantiated by verifiable data or evidence. It was noted that any allegations supported by credible evidence are dealt with firmly by the authorities and legal action has been taken by the Government in all cases in which the Sri Lankan security personnel have been involved.
”In contrast to the considerable challenges in the humanitarian crises that continue to engulf many parts of the world today, Sri Lanka’s achievements particularly following the ending of the terrorist conflict provides confidence and hope that even the most severe and insurmountable humanitarian crisis can be overcome, with political commitment.”
Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha made this observation during the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons in the Human Rights Council on Thursday, 12 June. The Special Rapporteur presented his report to the 26th session of the Council, currently underway in Geneva, pursuant to his mission to Sri Lanka in December 2013 at the invitation of the Government. He undertook several field visits during his mission, where he was provided with unfettered access, to engage with a variety of actors, including civil society.
Intervening in the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and SR on Extreme Poverty at the 26th UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 12th June 2014, Sri Lanka said “We believe that in national policy formulation to combat violence against women, it is necessary to focus on gender equality and the empowerment of women to enable them to fully enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms. Sri Lanka’s national policy framework, has consistently highlighted the importance of gender equality and taken measures to alleviate any existing gender gaps”.
Intervening in the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Right to Health and WG on Human Rights and Business at the 26th UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 11th June 2014, Sri Lanka has said “Multi-sectoral approach should be used to address diet-related Non-Communicable Deceases (NCDs) and to increase availability of healthier food alternatives through policy formulation. While providing information about the ill effects of unhealthy foods and raising awareness of the benefits of balanced diets and healthy foods, States should take steps to implement health education programmes to promote healthy food options in such institutional settings such as schools”.
Sri Lanka has reiterated its categorical rejection of the Human Right Council Resolution 25/1, and said it will not cooperate with the OHCHR-driven so called “comprehensive investigation” emanating from it. Sri Lanka has observed that the Government is firmly committed to continuing its ongoing processes of reconciliation, nation building and accountability, and towards this end, will continue to work with countries and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations that are genuinely interested in the welfare of the Sri Lankan people.