”the government’s approach had been to ascertain observations of its constituent political parties. At the time the Minister visited Washington all the positions of the government political parties had not been received, while those received were being processed. Therefore, compiling a fully fledged document containing an action plan is a misnomer ”
The government had not submitted any action plan to the US Secretary of State on the implementation of the LLRC report, Leader of the House, Irrigation Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva told Parliament yesterday.
Replying to a special statement made by JVP parliamentary group leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, who demanded that the government reveal the contents of the action plan, said to have been submitted by the External Affairs Minister to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the minister said “it is total fiction to state that a secret document containing the action plan had been handed over to the US Secretary of State.”
Full text of the statement read out to the House by Minister de Silva on behalf of the External Affairs Minister: “At the outset I wish to observe that the question submitted by Anura Dissanayake, Member of Parliament, on the Standing order 23/2 has resulted from being completely misinformed.
I would like to emphasise that the government had consistently sought to ensure the non-internationalization of domestic issues. It is our steadfast position in this regard which provided the basis for Sri Lanka to categorically oppose any international initiatives which impinged on our national issues. There were a number of overtures made in seeking Sri Lanka cooperation with regard to the US initiated Resolution at the 19th Session of the Human Rights Council. However, it was decided that in the interest of keeping the self-respect of the people of Sri Lanka, it was prudent even to lose by opposing rather than accepting punitive measures from a part of the international community on solely domestic matters. Considering the might of the opposition Sri Lanka was faced with in Geneva, it must be acknowledged that the final result demonstrated a complete division of the UNHRC and that too in a favourable manner to Sri Lanka, as it was by a mere one vote and thereby upheld the self esteem of the Sri Lankan people.
MP Dissanayaka may not accept that the communication to visit Washington was delivered to the Minister of External Affairs at the end of January 2012 and not as he said following the adoption of the Human Rights Council resolution which was in the third week of the March 2012. We do not understand the basis of the MP’s observation that it was more an order than an invitation to visit Washington that was communicated to the Minister. In this context, I quote from the letter of the US Secretary of State where she says that- “to help guide our thoughts on further action, I would like to invite you to Washington in March to discuss your plans to move ahead on reconciliation, accountability and provincial council elections in the North. The visit also would provide a favourable opportunity for you to meet with think tanks and Congress to brief them….”
It is therefore, evident that this wording construes an invitation rather than an order.
As the MP is aware, the government’s approach had been to ascertain observations of its constituent political parties. At the time the Minister visited Washington all the positions of the government political parties had not been received, while those received were being processed. Therefore, compiling a fully fledged document containing an action plan is a misnomer. It is total fiction to state that a secret document containing the action plan had been handed over to the US Secretary of State at our meeting on 18th May, 2012. This position is established by the very fact that the Spokesperson of the US Department of State Victoria Nuland in her briefing stated that “the Foreign Minister resented a very serious and comprehensive approach to the LLRC recommendations and the plans that the Government has….” I wish to emphasize her word ‘approach’. Therefore, at no point has even the US State Department Spokesperson stated that an action plan was resented. With regard to the approach on the implementation of the LLRC recommendations. It was explained to the US Secretary of State that there are 135 main recommendations with sub areas totalling 285, which for the ease of processing for implementation would be designed under four categories, Viz-a-viz: Recommendations relating to national policy, recommendations pertaining to the final phase of the conflict, recommendations related to human rights and security issues and recommendations on re-settlement, development and humanitarian issues.
By Saman Indrajith