No sanctions from UNHRC, says Mahinda

Monday, 3 March 2014 01:57 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Geneva sessions kick off today; GL to deliver key address, not Samarasinghe
  • Govt. refuses to speculate on result
As Sri Lanka begins the third battle on a resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), President Mahinda Rajapaksa was quick to assure there was no danger of economic sanctions being imposed on the country. During a meeting with the foreign correspondents last Friday, President Rajapaksa noted only the United Nations Security Council has the power to impose economic sanctions on a country and the UNHRC is not empowered to do so. “Any country can impose economic sanctions. But it cannot be done by the UNHRC,” he told the gathering in response to a question. External Affairs Prof  G.L. Peiris, who also attended the discussions, elaborated, noting the various reports in the media of possible sanctions was both “misleading and misrepresenting” the situation concerning Geneva. He pointed out that any country can bilaterally impose sanctions or the world powers could do so through the United Nations Security Council and linking the possibility of sanctions with the UNHRC process was unsound. Many countries within the 47 member countries of the UNHRC do not “have the appetite for this disproportionate response. There is simply no justification for such action year after year… they realise it is unfair,” noted Peiris at the meeting. Sri Lanka has been lobbying extensively ahead of the UNHRC to drum up support but Rajapaksa refused to predict how many votes the country would get or what their reaction would be if an international investigation is approved. “Why speculate on speculation?” queried Prof. Peiris. He also noted that reports of a counter-resolution were “completely incorrect”. Prof. Peiris will lead the Sri Lanka delegation and deliver the main address at the UNHRC, which begins its sessions on 3 March. The main speech on behalf of the Sri Lankan Government was previously delivered by Plantations Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe. Prof. Peiris will also meet with UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay as well as a host of other member country official throughout the UNHRC sessions. The vote on Sri Lanka’s resolution will be taken on 28 March, a day before the Western and Southern Provincial Council elections back home.