Army to cooperate with HRCSL to resolve screening issue of UN peacekeepers

Thursday, 28 June 2018 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Sri Lanka Army in a statement said it would cooperate with the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) to resolve outstanding screening issues of UN Peacekeepers to be deployed in the future.

The Army said it would always cooperate with the HRCSL for clearance of the backlog since information that had been produced by the Army for screening in some cases could also contain shortcomings, complications, discrepancies, due to operational commitments, change of residential addresses, etc.

“The Sri Lanka Army while assuring its best cooperation all the time to the HRCSL for implementation of its mandate expects this bilateral understanding and coordination would certainly enable both parties to sort out those pending issues amicably as early as possible,” the Army said in a statement.

Sri Lanka as one of the Troop Contributing Countries (TCC) to the United Nations (UN) since the year 2004 has been in the practice of sending troops for UN Peacekeeping assignments in large groups in close collaboration with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UNDPKO).

To be in line with the UN Secretary General’s decision No. 2012/18 on 11 December 2012 in relation to ‘screening of UN personnel for Human Rights’, the Sri Lanka Army, consequent upon discussions with the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, UNDPKO and the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) resolved that an own national mechanism be followed with respect to independent screening of personnel through the HRCSL.

Accordingly, this national process of screening which needs the fullest cooperation of both the HRCSL and the armed forces for vetting UN bound own members came into effect early this year, although previous such clearance procedures were executed by authorities in the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

“Sri Lanka Army, much more contented to have been screened by our own independent authority, i.e. HRCSL, particularly at a time Sri Lanka is expanding its participation in UN assignments, accordingly began submission of details of Army personnel, selected for UN missions for HRCSL’s independent vetting. In the meantime, UNDPKO in constant touch with the Sri Lanka Army has been inquiring into reasons, attributable to delayed dispatches of Sri Lankan troops for scheduled rotational releases as agreed upon,” the statement explained. A round table conference to this effect, attended by the Secretary to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chairperson and Commissioners of the HRCSL, visiting UNDPKO officials of the UN, New York, Commanders of the Army and Navy, Air Force Chief of Staff, Director General of the Directorate of Army Overseas Operations, STF officers and Ministry of Defence officials took place as recent as Thursday (21 June) in Colombo.

At present, Sri Lankan troops, majority being from the Sri Lanka Army have been deployed in Lebanon (UNIFIL), South Sudan (UNMISS), Mali (MINUSMA), Abyei (UNISFA), New York (UNHQ), Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and Western Sahara (MINURSO), either as military observers, liaison officers, staff officers, staff officer assistants or general contingent troops for peacekeeping. To-date a total of 450 Sri Lankan peacekeepers are serving seven UN peacekeeping overseas missions under the UNDPKO.