The Sri Lankan government has publicly thanked Australia for its “bold” decision not to co-sponsor a UN resolution to investigate alleged human rights abuses in the south Asian nation, the Sydney Morning Herald reported today.
According to a statement by the Sri Lankan high commission, Sri Lanka thanked Australia for the ‘‘bold decision of not co-sponsoring this year’s human rights resolution on Sri Lanka’’.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and the head of Operation Sovereign Borders, Lieutenant-General Angus Campbell, on Tuesday welcomed a Sri Lanka delegation, including Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, formally invited by the federal government.
“[The] government of Australia considers accountability and human rights concerns should be addressed within an internal mechanism and not by any international investigation as suggested by other countries,” the high commission statement said.
“[The] Australian side indicated that they would render all possible assistance to Sri Lanka in this regard,” it said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop then met with the country’s External Affairs Minister Professor G.L. Peiris. During their meeting, Mr Peiris also thanked Ms Bishop for her understanding of the “Sri Lankan situation”, and for declining to co-sponsor the Resolution against Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council in March, the high commission said in a separate statement.
A spokeswoman for Ms Bishop said the meeting between the two ministers was confidential.
“The Australian Government has a well known policy of engagement with the Sri Lankan Government and a constructive and diverse relationship with Sri Lanka. We continue to work closely with the Sri Lankan Government on a range of matters,” she said.
International lawyers have strongly condemned the delegation meeting, saying it was a distraction to the country’s gross human rights violations – including forced abductions, torture, and extrajudicial killings by state forces, land seizures by the military and oppression of political opponents that plagued Sri Lanka during the 26-year civil war that ended in 2009.