Over 90 countries speak positively on SL
Out of a total of 99 countries that will speak on Sri Lanka's
progress on human rights development at the United Nations Human Rights
Commission's Universal Periodic Review(UPR) sessions, more than 90
countries will speak positively on the county's HR performance and
achievements, External Affairs Ministry Secretary Karunathilaka
Amunugama said yesterday.
He said Sri Lanka will not announce any voluntary pledges to the
UNHRC at the forthcoming UPR session that it cannot fulfill later and it
will answer questions raised by other countries during the process as a
Meanwhile, most of the members of the Sri Lanka's delegation to the
UPR, have already left for Geneva to attend the next month's UPR
sessions. Plantation Industries Minister and Sri Lanka's Special
Presidential Envoy on Human Rights, Mahinda Samarasinghe,will lead Sri
Lanka's UPR delegation.
The delegation comprise Ambassador and Permanent Representative of
Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinghe, External Affairs
Ministry(EAM) Monitoring MP Sajin Vaas Gunawardena, EAM's UN division
Multilateral Affairs Director Shashikala Premawardena, officials from
ministries of Justice, Defense, Rehabilitation ministries and the
Attorney General's Department.
Minister Samarasinghe has flown to Geneva for the sessions from New
York after attending a UN meeting and having met the United Nations
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the UN headquarters in New Yew York,
according to Amunugama. UPR sessions for Sri Lanka will begin on
Thursday (November 01) 2012. The country's human rights record will be
reviewed during the sessions.
Asked if Sri Lanka was confident to answer all the countries that are
listed to ask questions at the UPR, EAM Secretary Amunugama said, Sri
Lanka's UPR delegation is confident to answer their questions and will
answer them as time permits.
"There will be 99 countries asking questions, there will be much less
time to answer them all within the allocated time," he explained. Asked
if it was due to that the delegation might find some questions difficult
to answer, he said, "there will be some questions that calls for long
elaborate answers. However we attend the present UPR with a lot of
confidence because we have fulfilled most of the country's voluntary
commitments to the UNHRC at the last UPR in 2008."
"One of them is the National Action Plan for the Protection and
Promotion of Human Rights," he said " We will field questions that are
raised against us as a sovereign nation and added that the questions
It has been reported in the foreign media that the United States,
Canada, Mexico , Spain, Czech Republic and Spain had submitted questions
to the Council regarding the situation of Sri Lanka not holding
elections for the Northern Provincial Council , and its status on the
Victim Protection Bill at the UPR.
Amunugama said, President Mahinda Rajapaksa's position is very clear
on the matter of holding elections in the Northern Province next year.
"Before one can hold an election, there is work to be done concerning
civilians in the Northern Province to make conditions conducive for an
election. There is the election register that has to be made to make the
voters eligible for voting," he said.
"There are people who had newly settled in the Province after the war
had ended. There are thousands of Muslim and Tamil citizens who have
been living in other areas who are originally from the Northern Province
for the last three decades. Their names have to be entered in electoral
Besides , necessary infrastructure have to be established in the
Province to hold an election, explained Amunugama." Unless we can meet
all this requirements , it will be unfair to hold an election in the
"Commenting on the status of the Witness Protection Bill , he said
these things will have to be done in keeping the the country's legal
system. We can very well explain our position on these matters to UN
member countries if they are interested,"he said.
According to reports from Geneva, Sri Lanka has been given an
extended period of time at this year's UPR. He said there will be 90
countries to speak positively on Sri Lanka's achievements in the areas
of resettlement and rehabilitation of IDPs and clearing of land mines
among other things.