TNA says Bachelet report on Sri Lanka does not exceed mandate

Urges member states to pass resolution 46/1


COLOMBO – UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s report on Sri Lanka does not exceed its mandate but has “very correctly” pointed out the country’s failures with regard to its international obligations, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) said in a statement on Tuesday (9).

The Tamil party was responding to Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena’s remarks at the High- Level Segment on February 23 and at the Interactive Dialogue on the OHCHR report on February 24, at the ongoing 46th session of the UNHRC.

Urging member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to pass resolution 46/1, the Alliance said  Bachelet’s report highlights Sri Lanka’s failure to meet specific undertakings given to the UNHRC. “Inquiring into the human rights situation through due procedures is a legitimate function of the UN and does not amount to violation of the country’s sovereignty or territorial Integrity,” the Alliance said in the statement.

The TNA, Sri Lanka’s largest coalition of Tamil political parties representing the country’s North and East, questioned Minister Gunawardena’s assertion that Sri Lanka withdrew from its co-sponsorship of resolutions HRC 30/1 and HRC 40/1, adopted in October 2015 and March 2019 respectively.

“The State co-sponsored the above resolutions and another resolution HRC 34/1 in March 2017, at the different times they were adopted by the Council. Once adopted, the passage of the resolution is complete and there can be no question of withdrawal on behalf of the State by the following government,” it said.

The statement, signed by TNA leader R. Sampanthan, ITAK leader Mavai S Senathirajah, TELO leader Selvam Adaikalanathan, and PLOTE leader D Sithadthan,  also questioned Gunawardena’s rejection of the High Commissioner’s report.

“Again, he seems to have overlooked the fact that it is the Council that had mandated the High Commissioner should present a comprehensive report at the 46th sessions. This report has been welcomed by many member states and others,” it said, noting the minister had made several incredulous assertions, one example, being his attempt to connect the co-sponsorship of HRC 30/1 and the Easter Sunday bombings of 2019,.

The Alliance also noted the foreign minister had not explained what Sri Lanka has done to account for the “tens of thousands” of alleged enforced disappearances of civilians during the armed conflict, including those who purportedly surrendered to the armed forces towards the end of the war.

“Sri Lanka has not conducted any investigations to ascertain the truth and dispense justice. Anything done to ascertain the truth has been through the investigations highlighted in the POE report of March 2011 (the report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka), or the OISL (OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka) report of September 2015,” it said.

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