Lanka shocked at actions on UN probe

GL PERIESThe Sri Lankan Government has expressed shock at a comment made by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), that despite a deadline by when submissions can be made to the UN led investigation on Sri Lanka, late submissions will not be rejected.

External Affairs Minister Professor G. L. Peiris has told the Heads of Mission and Representatives of the main proponents of the Investigation on Sri Lanka by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the High Commissioner of Australia, that it is interesting to note that such a position was revealed unofficially soon after the request from Ananthi Sasitharan, a member of the Northern Provincial Council, addressed to the three experts of the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL), for an extension of the period for submissions.

Rupert Colville, spokesperson and head of media at OHCHR had told Colombo Gazette and a Sunday newspaper that while officially the deadline for submissions was 30 October and it will not be extended, OHCHR is aware that some material may take time to arrive so OHCHR will not necessarily refuse submissions that arrive late.

According to a statement by the External Affairs Ministry, Minister Professor G. L. Peiris has said that while it is perfectly acceptable to extend a deadline openly, to do so in a clandestine manner, so as to benefit selectively a group of persons expressing a particular point of view is unacceptable and expressed shock at the unprofessional conduct demonstrated by these developments.

Minister Peiris further explained that although the Programme Budget Implications of the Resolution 25/1 make provision for staff of the OISL to travel to Europe, the Asia-Pacific region and North America to access alleged victims and witnesses living outside the country, the OISL has not revealed details of dates and venues where such hearings are to take place.

He also expressed strong displeasure at the “selective and biased approach” followed where the investigation determines the nature of the information they wish to receive, for a specific outcome.

Prof. Peiris stressed that this flawed procedure infringes on the basic norms of justice and fairplay. He said that though Sri Lanka has rejected the UNHRC Resolution establishing an international investigation, it was only reasonable for the international community to expect, as the minimum requirement, that the investigation would follow certain fundamental principles relating to objectivity and fairness. (Colombo Gazette)