By Gagani Weerakoon and Skandha Gunasekara
Revealing that Sri Lanka was on the verge of being in a dreadful situation if the UN Human Rights Council had released its report on alleged war crimes committed during the last phase of the war, Former Minister Mahinda Samrasinghe said, the greatest achievement by the incumbent government thus far, was convincing the UNHRC and US to postpone the resolution for another six months.
“Various people may say various things but as a person who frequented Geneva and faced the US sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka, I was aware of what was in store for us. If it was taken up in March 2015 as scheduled, the result would have been extremely dangerous for the country,” Samarasinghe said in Parliament yesterday (18).
Participating in the debate on the amendments made to the United Nations Act No. 45 of 1968 to ensure that Sri Lanka’s legal framework is in harmony with internationally accepted standards against money laundering and the financing of terrorism, the Former Minister praised Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and the government for taking the correct approach in convincing the UNHRC and the US.
“As a country which fought a war against a terrorist group for thirty long years one cannot assure that human rights were 100 per cent protected. Anyone would know it is not possible. Even though the previous government was able to win the resolution against the country in 2009, it failed to keep up the victory. We should admit that delay in taking certain steps locally and our foreign policy put us in a negative position internationally,” he noted.
While noting that the country’s foreign policy aligning towards one part of the world and considering others as enemies brought nothing beneficial to the country, he also said that the UNHRC is not completely apolitical.
“Even though countries like China helped us at the UNHRC, they failed to bring a single other vote in favour for us. No matter what others may say, the most powerful country that could influence others is none other than the US. Their President need not get involved but even an official like Secretary John Kerry can change things with a single telephone call and this was what happened last time. This government has clearly understood this,” he added.
Samarasinghe however said that the country is not completely out of danger and thus needs to act swiftly in ensuring human rights in the country. “If not, there will be no further chance once the much awaited report on Sri Lanka is presented to the UNHRC in September,” he said.