In its observations on the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) communicated to the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the Sri Lankan government has drawn attention to the progress made in addressing issues related to human rights and ethnic reconciliation and emphatically refuted the charges and contentions in the OHCHR’s report.
In the point-by-point refutation, the government’s overall thrust is that the OHCHR’s contentions are baseless, biased and unsubstantiated. Some comments and prescriptions amount to violation of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and meddling in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs which is outside the UNHRC’s mandate.
The government’s 30-page reply published in full by www. counterpoint.lk says that the OHCHR should have focused on “deliverable” reconciliation mechanisms rather than trying to put in place mechanisms which do not have popular sanction or are constitutionally barred.
Refuting the repeated contention that Sri Lanka has been hoodwinking the UNHRC, the government points out that the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) is functioning under judicial oversight and is headed by a former Supreme Court judge. Government is waiting for the OMP to submit its financial requirements. The Office of Reparations, (OR), which has been allotted Rs.910 million, has so far received 16,275 applications of which 4358 have been processed and Rs.142 million disbursed as reparations. The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) was allotted Rs.290 million.
As regards lands taken by the military during the war, 82.26% of State lands and 92.22% of Private lands were returned to their civilian owners by end December 2019. When the war ended, 1311 sq. km in the Northern and Eastern provinces were bristling with land mines. 98.7% of the affected area has now been cleared. The government’s bid to replace the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) failed because of opposition in parliament and religious leaders, but government is intent on “revisiting” the PTA.
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