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Sunday, July 21, 2024

UNHRC Means Business and SL will Have to Deliver: UK Minister

( Hugo Swire meeting President Sirisena in Colombo)
Sri Lanka will have to demonstrate by June that it has made significant and credible progress in achieving the commitment made to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) last September over issues of truth and accountability, UK’s Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Hugo Swire said yesterday.“The UNHRC will look at the progress made by Sri Lanka in its June session, and it will be important for Sri Lanka to demonstrate significant and credible progress by then,” Mr. Swire who briefed journalists at the end of his three-day visit to the country said.

He said that, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights who will be visiting Sri Lanka shortly, is serious about the June deadline for the government to meet its commitments. “Prince Zed who I spoke to recently, is coming to Sri Lanka quite soon, and he is very certain that June is not just a cosmetic ticking the box exercise. It is to really measure that some of these long term measures are going to be properly addressed.” he said.

Mr. Swire who met with President Maithrpala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera during his visit said, there have been many positive developments in Sri Lanka in the past 12 months.
Particularly in the North, he said the climate of fear and mistrust has evaporated. “I genuinely believe that it’s a very different place. This government deserves credit for moving very quickly on these matters, but there is a long way to go,” he added.
During his stay Mr. Swire visited the North and took part in the National Thai Pongal celebrations there, and also held talks with Northern PC Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran.

He said there were concerns in the North at the pace at which land under the military is being returned, but acknowledged that a considerable amount of land had been returned. “There is clearly a huge expectation from this government. But frankly, this government is doing things as quickly as they can and there is a real commitment from the Prime Minister to hand back more land,” he said.

He added the government is taking on a lot onto its plate. “It’s working on a new Constitution, it has to a deal with the families of disappeared, the legal processes, and deal with the economy during a vulnerable period when oil prices are down. But it is a government with huge commitment and huge energy, and it will deliver,” he said

Sunday Times


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