Govt. slams int’l community on “inconsistent” polices

Friday, 14 February 2014 01:03 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Special envoys to Middle East, Japan and Korea to drum up support
  • “Hurt” by India’s visa on arrival refusal
By Uditha Jayasinghe Under censure for its human rights record the Government hit back at the international community yesterday blaming it for “inconsistent” policies. Sri Lanka will be facing a third resolution in as many years on its human rights record that includes war crimes allegations at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) next month. Government Spokesman and Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella reiterated the Government’s stance that it has implemented a significant number of reconciliation measures and rejected international criticism that credible investigations have not taken place regarding allegations of civilian deaths during the last phase of the war. “The resolution is a serious concern for the government. Reconciliation is something that is important for the people and we are very aware of it and have done an incredible amount of work so far but we feel that the international community keeps changing the specifications of what it wants us to achieve. New things get added on every year,” he said. Rambukwella emphasised the Government sensed a “hidden agenda” in the international community’s continued interest in Sri Lanka but pledged to work to “win every country, even the US over.” The US will table the resolution and is already in talks with countries to obtain support for the proposal. In 2012 and 2013 Sri Lanka failed to defeat the resolution but has taken a more proactive role in this round by sending envoys to drum up support from Africa, the Middle East and Far East nations. In fact Rambukwella noted that in the coming weeks special envoys will be sent to Japan and Korea as well as the Middle East to further bolster Sri Lanka’s support base. The country’s External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris wrapped up a tour to China this week where he was assured of assistance. The island is expected to send a strong team to defend itself in Geneva next month and Prof. Peiris is already tabled to make the main speech on behalf of the government. However, Rambukwella insisted that there was no final decision on it and Plantation Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe could still make his customary address. He also expressed “serious concern” and “hurt” over India’s decision not to allow Sri Lankans visa on arrival. Responding to questions the minister confessed he is personally disappointed and it was a move that will “leave a bad taste” but stressed that greater diplomatic engagement was needed to resolve differences between the two governments. “I’m sure the External Affairs Ministry will look into this and engage with the Indian Foreign Ministry. Personally I’m shaken by it.”