Several countries including Russia and China criticised the report compiled by UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay, during the interactive dialogue held at the UNHRC sessions in Geneva yesterday.
Sri Lanka received strong backing from Russia, China, Cuba, Pakistan, Venezuela, Belarus and Zimbabwe, which criticised the report submitted by Pillay based on her fact-finding mission to Sri Lanka last August, as ‘imbalanced’ and one that ‘exceeded the mandate granted by resolution 22/1’.
Speaking during the interactive dialogue, representatives from Russia said they could not agree with the contents of the report as it exceed Pillay’s mandate and interfered with the domestic affairs of Sri Lanka. They went on to state that the absence of ‘explosions or civilian deaths’ for the past five years should be recognised, adding that, “Human rights should not be used as a means of settling political goals or gaining geopolitical advantage.”
China too criticised the report as one that had undermined the basis of international cooperation on human rights. “We support Sri Lanka to defend its national independent sovereignty,” the speaker representing China said, while calling on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to strictly follow its granted mandate.
“The report does not acknowledge the many achievements by Sri Lanka in reaching towards reconciliation and reflects the imbalance in verifying human rights issues in countries of the South,” the Cuban speaker said in his comments during the interactive session, and added that the proposed international investigation would only create a negative impact on Sri Lanka’s reconciliation process.
Meanwhile Pakistan in its statement said, “Sri Lanka should not be penalised for rooting out terrorism from its soil.”
Among the countries that addressed the session, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sudan, Cuba, Namibia, Venezuela, Vietnam, Egypt, Thailand, Belarus, South Sudan, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Iran, Uganda, Bolivia and Nigeria commended Sri Lanka's efforts. Most countries critiqued the report for having vested interests and for alleged interference with another country through country-specific resolutions that undermined domestic processes, and called for providing sufficient time to overcome the effects of long-term armed conflict, especially when the country has demonstrated commitment to improve on its record and has cooperated with international processes such as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
The US, UK, France, the EU, Montenegro, Ireland, Austria, the Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Norway, Canada and Switzerland, while praising the resettlement and development activities carried out by the Government of Sri Lanka in conflict affected zones, welcomed Pillay’s report.
Apart from these countries, a long list of Non-governmental organizations, including the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, the International Commission of Jurists, Human Rights Watch Canada, World Evangelical Alliance, Amnesty International, International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism and the International Buddhist Foundation also made comments during the interactive dialogue held yesterday at the 52nd meeting of the 25th session of the UNHRC in Geneva.