By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
The review on the UN report on Sri Lanka will be put off for September this year, and will not be taken before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva this March as scheduled, highly placed sources told Ceylon Today. The US, the main sponsor of the resolution on Sri Lanka, is expected to ask the UNHRC to review the report in September when it will be taken up for discussion during the March session, the sources added.
This comes after the new Government of Sri Lanka had urged the US to give ‘time’ to work on the resolution.
The sources also revealed the Colombo-based foreign missions are sending commendable reports to Geneva on the new government and its 100-day programme.
A UN review of a State is based on a national report prepared by the State under review; a compilation of United Nations information on the State under review prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and a summary of information submitted by other stakeholders (including civil society actors), also prepared by the OHCHR.
According to sources, the report on Sri Lanka will be tabled at the session and taken up for discussion, but the US is most ‘likely’ to suspend the review till September 2015.
On Monday, 16 February, a UN expert team will work on further crystallizing the issues mentioned in the report and it would be presented at the Council for discussion but will not review it, the sources said.
A short discussion is already in progress in Geneva, it was revealed.
The US Government seems to be considerate and supportive of the new leader and his team in Colombo, the Geneva sources pointed out.
This revelation comes after Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs of the US Department of State, Nisha Biswal, who endorsed US’ greater commitments to Sri Lanka during a recent visit to Colombo.
It is believed that US will be considerate as the new government is just a month old. During Biswal’s visit she said, “It was a privilege to witness for myself the sense of excitement and optimism that the Sri Lankan people have ushered in through the historic 8 January election.”
Biswal had also confided to Muslim Congress Leader, Rauff Hakeem, that though there may be a resolution and reports filed in Geneva to be tabled at the March session, the US focus has now shifted to what is happening in Colombo.
“In September it would be crucial for Sri Lanka because there are some persons who will be identified as persons related to alleged war crimes, such as General Sarath Fonseka. But, he is with the government now,” it was pointed out. “Even for the UNHRC, it would be an interesting situation, but let’s watch what is going to happen at the end. How the accountability factor would be tackled by the UNHRC, where even the new government does not want to invite the Panel of International Experts to Sri Lanka, is a matter of concern,” sources told Ceylon Today.
Maithripala Sirisena’s rise to the Presidency following his victory at the 8 January, 2015 presidential election was gleefully welcomed by the international community that had been ‘antagonized’ and ‘undermined’ by the previous government for pointing out Sri Lanka’s political culture locally and internationally, lack of good governance and playing down the human rights situation, so on and so forth. Sri Lankans, too, welcomed Sirisena’s rise to the presidency as it freed them from what they believed was nine years of authoritarian governance.