Lankan delegation to UNHRC in Geneva costs state coffers Rs. 59 m

Monday, 9 December 2013 00:05 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Sri Lanka getting a head start on UNHRC sessions next March
By Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Correspondent The Sri Lankan Government is getting a head start in its defence at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in March 2014, reaching out to member states to impress upon them how inappropriate it was to table a country specific resolution, a senior Minister told Parliament last week. External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris told Parliament that the Government had incurred a cost of Rs. 59 million to send its delegation to Geneva in 2013 to defend the country against mounting human rights allegations. The Minister said he was unable to identify the members of the delegation for reasons of national security. “Our national effort was supported by many individuals and ongoing. Disclosing specific details including the number of delegates and their names will jeopardise their safety,” said Minister Peiris on Saturday at Parliament in response to a question for Oral Answers raised by UNP MP Sajith Premadasa. According to Minister Peiris, the Government had conducted propaganda programs both in Sri Lanka as well as in foreign destinations, which has a Sri Lankan diplomatic presence. “Several diplomatic briefings were held by me prior to the Human Rights Council Sessions, to keep the Colombo based diplomatic missions informed on the steps taken by the Government on resettlement, rehabilitation and national reconciliation, since the end of the conflict. Individual letters were dispatched to Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the 47 member countries of the Human Rights Council drawing attention to the fact that Sri Lanka is being unfairly targeted,” he said. Minister Peiris said he had also telephoned several counterparts to brief them about the factual situation regarding the post-conflict developments in Sri Lanka. Comprehensive information notes were provided to all member countries of the Human Rights Council on the post-conflict developments in Sri Lanka, the Minister said. He added that Special Envoys of the President were sent to a number of countries where they met the leaders of these countries at the highest levels. The Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka in Geneva had also continued to brief the diplomatic community in Geneva on the factual situation in Sri Lanka while seeking their support, particularly through the like-minded countries. The Minister said that Sri Lankan Missions abroad had been requested to brief senior officials and policy makers of their respective countries they were accredited to particularly the Sri Lankan Missions in Geneva and New York to meet UN officials,” added Minister Peiris.