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51st UNHRC session in Geneva: New resolution draft out this week

 

  • Draft to mirror Human Rights Chief’s report
  • First informal consultation on Friday and more to follow

 

By Our Political Editor

 

A new resolution on Sri Lanka is to be made public this week following the commencement of the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session tomorrow (12) in Geneva, The Sunday Morning learns.

Informed sources told The Sunday Morning that the proposed new resolution on Sri Lanka would, for the first time, mirror the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The first or zero draft of the resolution is likely to be presented by either tomorrow or the day after (13).

“There will be several informal sessions starting from Friday (16), where the draft will be discussed and stakeholders will express opinions and propose amendments. However, it is unlikely that there will be significant changes to the text of the draft resolution,” sources noted, adding that the final text of the resolution would be put to a vote since the Sri Lankan Government would oppose it.

The proposed resolution is to include the issue of economic crimes that have taken place due to impunity and the violation of rights of Sri Lankan citizens. It will also include proposals and recommendations that have remained unimplemented since 2012, including the appointment of an eight-member group to inquire into alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka.

Arrests and abuse of protesters, use of Emergency laws and the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and the failure to ensure justice to victims of the Easter Sunday terror attacks, along with the need for a solution to the ethnic question and justice for the war missing and accountability, will be part of the proposal as well.

The new resolution is to be co-sponsored by the Core Group on Sri Lanka at the UNHRC – the US, the UK, Canada, Germany, Macedonia, and Malavi.

Meanwhile, the Government delegation, headed by Foreign Minister Ali Sabry PC and Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, is heavily lobbying member states of the UNHRC to push the Sri Lankan Government’s case to them.

However, the Ranil Wickremesinghe Government last week noted that it rejected the past two resolutions adopted on Sri Lanka at the UNHRC, calling them unconstitutional, specifically citing the proposed external mechanism and system.

The mechanism was previously accepted by the Sri Lankan Government at the UNHRC when it co-sponsored a resolution under the previous Yahapalana Government, where Wickremesinghe held the office of Prime Minister.

An informed source explained that in September 2015, in relation to resolution 30/1 on Sri Lanka that was co-sponsored by the then Government in which the incumbent President Wickremesinghe held the post of Prime Minister, the original text in 2015 had referred to “foreign” inquirers, but was later changed to “Commonwealth and other foreign” inquirers following a request made by then Prime Minister Wickremesinghe.

“Was it constitutional at that time?” is the question that is now being posed by members of the international community. Also, it is ironic that current Justice Minister Rajapakshe was also the Justice Minister at the time the then Government co-sponsored the resolution on Sri Lanka at the UNHRC.

A senior political analyst meanwhile explained that apart from Wickremesinghe’s stance in 2015 on an external mechanism, there was another incident that had taken place in 2012 which required attention.

According to the analyst, Justice Minister Rajapakshe had in December 2012 presented a private members’ motion in Parliament on the matter of removal of Supreme Court judges.

“In the motion, Rajapakshe had stated that Commonwealth judges other than from Sri Lanka must inquire into allegations against Sri Lankan judges. How was it acceptable then? How can the Foreign Minister now say such a mechanism is unacceptable and unconstitutional?” the analyst questioned.