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NewsNo country’s HR record is perfect. It is always work-in-progress- Sri Lanka’s Deputy FM

No country’s HR record is perfect. It is always work-in-progress- Sri Lanka’s Deputy FM

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Speaking at the 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council following the presentation of the Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Sri Lanka Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Harsha De Silva said  that no country’s human rights record is perfect. It is  always  work-in-progress.  The  people  of  Sri  Lanka  have  been through  extremely  difficult  and  painful  times,  and  although  much  has been  done,  there  is  much  still  left  to  do,  including  strengthening  our institutions  and  achieving  economic  progress.

Full text of his speech:

Mr. President,

High Commissioner,
Deputy High Commissioner,
Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I  thank  the  High  Commissioner  for  the  presentation  of  his  Report  in which many of the achievements made by Sri Lanka during the period concerned have been acknowledged.

As this Council is aware, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, Hon.  Mangala  Samaraweera  addressed  this  Council  on  the  28th of February  on  behalf  of  the  Government,  and outlined  what  we  have achieved in terms of Resolution 30/1 and beyond, what still remains to be done, and the challenges that we face in the process.

Most  importantly,  he  stressed  that  Sri  Lanka’s  resolve  to  the reconciliation  process  has  not  diminished.  He  said –with  the  help  of all  our  citizens  in  all  walks  of  life,  our  friends  and  partners  in  the international  community,  and  Sri  Lankans  overseas;  with  patience, understanding,  and  constant  and  consistent  effort  and  perseverance; we  strongly  believe  that  we  can  make  the  reconciliation  process  a success,  and  establish  a  progressive  and  united  society ,  working  in harmony  to  take  our  nation  towards  new  heights  of  socio-economic development.

I  take this  opportunity  today,  to  reiterate  our resolve  and  reaffirm  our commitment    to    the    reconciliation    process    and    commitments articulated in Resolution 30/1.

As the Council is aware, Sri Lanka has been working with the United States  and  the  other  main  co-sponsors  of  30/1,  UK,  Macedonia,  and Montenegro, on a Resolution for a two -year extension of the timeline for  fulfilment  of  commitments  made  in  Resolution  30/1.

We  are pleased   to   announce   that   Sri   Lanka   will   be   co-sponsoring   this Resolution,  and  we  thank  the  Council,  the  UN,  and  our  bilateral partners for their support to strengthen reconciliation in Sri Lanka, and for this extension of the timeline.

We  are  especially  appreciative  that  the  Council,  in  recognition  of  the firm  commitment  of  the  National  Unity  Government  to  the  process  of reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka, endorsed the   proposals   made   by   the   Government   in   2015,   for   credible ‘Government  of  Sri  Lanka -led’  processes  embodied  in  Resolution 30/1.

Mr. President,We  work  closely  with  the  High  Commissioner  and  his  Office  and  we are   committed   to   continuing   this   constructive   and   meaningful engagement for the benefit of all our people. The views, observations and  recommendations  of  the  High  Commissioner  are  useful,  as we work   to   strengthen,   promote,   and   protect   human   rights,   good governance, and the rule of law in Sri Lanka.

This Council knows that no country’s human rights record is perfect. It is  always  work-in-progress.  The  people  of  Sri  Lanka  have  been through  extremely  difficult  and  painful  times,  and  although  much  has been  done,  there  is  much  still  left  to  do,  including  strengthening  our institutions  and  achieving  economic  progress.  There  are  multiple challenges   that   we   face.   But,   as   a   responsible   and   committed Government,  under  the  leadership  of  President  Sirisena  and  Prime Minister  Wickremesinghe,  we  are  determined  to  stay  the  course.  We will  listen  to  all,  we  will  study  all  reports  carefully,  we  will  exchange information,     share     our     concerns     and     comments,     engage constructively   and   meaningfully   with   our   partners,   and   take   the necessary  steps  required  to  ensure  that  Sri  Lanka  is  a  nation  that  is prosperous,  united  in  its  diversity, upholding  human  rights,  justice, and the rule of law.

We remain firm in our resolve to enhance the fundamental rights of all citizens  as  equals  in  a  free  and  democratic  country,  where  fear  and intimidation  have  no  place.  We  are  committed  to  the  reconciliation agenda including truth, reparations, justice and non-recurrence with a victim-centred  approach,  recognising  the impact  of  conflict  on  all  our citizens,  irrespective  of  their  communities  of  origin,  gender,  social status, age and other identities.

As   we   go   through   the   complex   process   of   establishing   new mechanisms, we are considering the Report of the Consultation Task Force, and we will continue to consult with all segments of our society.

We  will  also  seek  international  expertise  and  assistance,  as  all countries do, when they undertake such responsibilities.

We request the support of all Council Members and Observers to help Sri Lanka succeed in this transformative and challenging agenda that we  have  undertaken,  including  economic  development,that  plays  an important role in ensuring the success of the reconciliation agenda.
Thank you.

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