One of the significant remarks made by Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs of the US Department of State, Nisha Desai Biswal said though there may be a resolution and reports filed in Geneva to be tabled at the upcoming March session, there is still an opportunity for the government by its action taken domestically, to shift the focus from Geneva to what… happens in Colombo, said Minister of Urban Development, Water Supply and Drainage, Rauff Hakeem yesterday (3).
Biswal briefed Minister Hakeem that her tour was worthwhile, fruitful and extremely productive filled with good interactions with the officials she met.
When Ceylon Today asked whether the UNHRC report that is being prepared to be presented at the next session in Geneva is ‘damning’ and ‘profoundly damaging’, the Minister said, however damning it may be, we have to look at the matters that happened in the past, the probity it needs to be tackled in a manner without damage to the sovereignty of the country. I am sure the international body will respect the need to list our side of the story. “We are willing to corporate by having a credible local domestic mechanism to bring out the truth,” the minister said.
He said Biswal, although did not mention or make a specific comment on what is going to happen or what is to be discussed in Geneva in March, but had a very positive image with the new developments in the country.
When asked why did Biswal state ‘there are difficult times ahead for Sri Lanka’ while she addressed the media on Monday, the Minister said she was not too optimistic or pessimistic either but had a positive approach based on what she has seen and heard on Sri Lanka.
The Minister further said Colombo had assured confidence to the international community with the democratic election that was held as a base for a positive outlook of the future of Sri Lanka with the transformation that has taken place thereafter without many disturbances.
The minister also explained that the Geneva process is a unique process because it is a review mechanism which is in place when it comes to the country reports that are to be submitted. “But when it comes to the resolution, such as the US government’s, that again is a deliberated process; always the drafts are shared with the host government and with the government against whom the resolution is meant. So, the delegation in Geneva will have an opportunity to look at what is going to be presented and I’m sure the HR Commissioner’s report too would be taken in consonance with what has happened lately in Colombo’, he added.
However, the minster stressed that Sri Lanka needs to corporate with the international community and there is a need to improve the human rights situation which is beyond question. But now that they understood the many obstacles have disappeared and Colombo is in better position now to move forward, he stressed.
He said that he had expressed to the government to restore the Right to information Act which is now ready to be introduced in the Parliament to create a better atmosphere for good governance in the country.