External Affairs Minister, Prof. G. L. Peiris, said that that ongoing moves to take up Sri Lanka’s issue at the UN Human Rights Council sessions, scheduled to begin in Geneva today, were not acceptable.
Minister Peiris, who was in London last week, told The Island that the Human Rights Council is governed by certain procedures, and that the proper procedure for visiting Human Rights Issues in any country was the Universal Periodical Review (UPR). “That is part of the established procedure of the HRC. UPR is a revolving mechanism and countries come up for review from time to time. In normal course of things, Sri Lanka comes up in October 2012. There is absolutely no reason for Sri Lanka to be taken up in September this year”, the minister said.
The Minister further said that among other things, Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) which is the local mechanism, probing these issues, is required to submit its report to the Government of Sri Lanka before the 15th of November 2011. It is an accepted principle in International Relations and certainly with regard to the organs established by the United Nations charter, that full respect must be accorded to National mechanisms and that is encapsulated in the rule relating to the exhaustion of local remedies and local procedures. Local procedures have to be fully exhausted before a matter is taken up at the International Level.
“Here you have a LLRC established under Sri Lanka’s laws by the Head of the Republic and in a matter of two months a report is to be submitted by the Government of Sri Lanka, It would be wholly indefensible for that report to be ignored, for its conclusions to be pre-empted,” the Minister said.
Minister Peiris said that he met US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, in Washington in May last year and she said that this local commission holds promise. “Allistair Burt, British Minister dealing with South Asia from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, categorically stated that there is no argument about it. That the International Community has to await the report. I told him that the report has to be studied objectively. He said of course we agree with that without any reservations whatsoever. If that is the case, we fail to understand at all how Sri Lanka could come up in the HRC in September. That would be a flagrant violation of the values and procedures of the UN system”, the Minister said.
The Minister also met with the Heads of Missions in Geneva on Friday 9th September to apprise them comprehensively of the situation in Sri Lanka.