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UPR Sri Lanka: India does a summersault – is there deal?


Geneva- In a bizarre move India has agreed to drop major part of recommendations it made to Sri Lanka at the 14th session of UPR held on 1st Nov 2012. The recommendations made by India on implementation of 13th amendment of  the constitution, Demilitarisation of Northern Province, Elections to the Northern Provincial Council and land issues in Northern Province have been deleted in the working group report with the concurrence of the India.

This about turn by India took Geneva based diplomatic community by surprise on 5th Nov when the when the working group report was presented. For instance USA and France raised the objections of changes made to the report being non- transparent. Responding to those objections Sri Lankan ambassador R. Ariyasinghe told the council that all such changes have been made with concurrence of the relevant status.

At the end of a unusual exchange of words between USA, France, Switzerland and Belgium on the one hand and Cuba, China and Russia on the other hand chair of the Human Rights Council ruled that all such changes should be explained in end notes.

One observer told this correspondent that the most glaring change of position belongs to India and there could be a deal between the Sri Lanka and India over these contentions issues. In the 19th session which was held last March India forced USA to dilute it resolution on Sri Lanka making it toothless. India managed to change the follow up close of the US backed resolution to include the words ‘concurrence of the Sri Lanka Government’ thus making it almost non binding.

Tamil observer to the UPR session told this correspondent that it seems India has betrayed the Sri Lankan Tamils again. Indian Mission to Geneva was not available for a comment.

The position taken by India at the UPR Sri Lanka session and the watered down version of Indian position as included in the working group report is given below:

This is what India said on the 1st Nov 2012 at UPR Sri Lanka session:

3. At the same time we recall the commitments made by Sri Lanka to the international community during UPR 2008 and on subsequent occasions for the implementation of 13th amendment and building on it so as to achieve a meaningful devolution package. We urge expeditious action to take forward the political process for early political settlement.

4. We have noted the announcement by the Sri Lankan government on holding Provincial Council elections in the Northern Province in 2013. We urge that the people of the province should be able to exercise democratic rights as guaranteed to them by the Sri Lanka constitution as early as possible.

5. We look forward to effective and timely implementation of the constructive recommendations contained in the LLRC report. These include those pertaining to early reconciliation, promotion of a trilingual policy; return the private land by the military, reduction of high security zones, and pushing out of the involvement of the security forces in civilian activities in the Northern Province. We have noted the action plan proposed by the Sri Lankan Government for the time bound implementation of these recommendations. We believe that the visible progress in this regard will foster genuine reconciliation. We call for credible investigations to be conducted in respect of allegations of Human Rights violation and incidents involving loss of civilian life brought out in the LLRC report.

This is what report prepared by the working group says:

74. India looked forward to speedy resolution of the residual issues in resettlement and rehabilitation. It called for credible investigations into allegations in the LLRC report. It noted the action plan for time-bound implementation of LLRC recommendations.
Experienced India watchers in Geneva (HRC) strongly believe that there could be a deal between the two countries and then the million Swiss Frank question is: what is the deal?

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