Canada and Switzerland have countered complaints by Sri Lanka that their governments summoned meetings in Geneva to discuss matters relating to the UN Advisory Panel’s report on alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka.
Among those invited for such meetings, the External Affairs Ministry has learnt, were Sri Lankan human rights activists. Canada’s High Commissioner Bruce Levy and Swiss Ambassador Tomas Litscher were called to the External Affairs Ministry to be told of Sri Lanka’s concerns over the meetings.
EAM Secretary, Karunatilleke Amunugama conveyed it during different meetings because such moves, according to him, are unfriendly acts. Sri Lanka’s diplomatic missions in Ottawa and Berne also conveyed similar concerns.
Mr. Levy told the Sunday Times his government had periodic multilateral consultations in Geneva. It was part of its diplomatic initiatives to consult a broader spectrum to determine various viewpoints in the conduct of diplomacy. “We have explained our position,” he said.
Swiss Ambassador Litscher is away from Sri Lanka. Charge d’ Affairs Franz Schneider told the Sunday Times that an “informal meeting” between Ambassador Litscher and the Ministry of External Affairs took place earlier this month with “an exchange of views regarding the UN panel report.”
He said: “Switzerland appreciates the fact that the United Nations in general and the Security Council in particular are addressing another aspect of the protection of civilians more systematically, which is the duty to investigate allegations of violations of international humanitarian law or human rights and to hold persons accountable for breaches of these rules.
The recent referrals of situations to the International Criminal Court are striking examples of this positive trend. Switzerland welcomes the report of the Panel of Experts mandated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the accountability of the parties in the conflict in Sri Lanka in 2009.”