Sri Lanka yesterday reiterated it remained committed to achieve reconciliation, accountability and human rights within the framework of the Sri Lankan Constitution, through a domestically-designed and executed process in line with the Government’s policy framework even as it withdraws from co-sponsorship of Resolution 30/1.
“We urge all parties once again to recognise the realities on the ground, and appreciate this approach of focusing on deliverable measures of reconciliation – which is backed by a people’s mandate and is in the interest of Sri Lanka and its people – instead of opting to continue with a framework driven externally that has failed to deliver genuine reconciliation for over four-and-a-half years,” Sri Lanka Acting Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Dayani Mendis said.
The Sri Lankan official said that the Government of Sri Lanka would continue its engagement with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN human rights mechanisms, and work in close cooperation with the international community through capacity building and technical assistance in mutually agreed areas, in keeping with domestic priorities and policies.
Sri Lanka’s position was announced during the Interactive dialogue on the annual report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the 44th Session of the Human Rights Council underway in Geneva, Switzerland.
The remarks came a day after the Core Group on Resolution 30/1 on Sri Lanka (UK, Canada, Germany, North Macedonia and Montenegro), expressed profound disappointment at the Government decision to withdraw from the Resolution and said they remained firmly committed to advancing the resolution’s goals of accountability, reconciliation, and inclusive peace in Sri Lanka.
Mendis also said the Government appreciated the initiatives taken by the Office to provide technical and financial assistance to states upon request, and highlight the need for equitable geographical representation in the Office and announced that in continuation of the country’s commitment to constructive engagement, Sri Lanka would be making a voluntary contribution of $ 5,000 to the Office of the High Commissioner in 2020.
The Sri Lanka Representative also referred to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken by the Government to contain the virus, saying swift preventive measures at the national level, a well-networked, multi-stakeholder contact tracing mechanism, and a robust healthcare system geared towards screening/testing and hospitalised care had helped to ensure zero social transmission of COVID-19 in the country since 1 May.
She said that with only 11 deaths, the last being on 1 June, the COVID-19 fatality rate in Sri Lanka stood at 0.54%, which was significantly lower than the global fatality rate of 4.85%, while the recovery rate in Sri Lanka stood at 83.59% higher than the global recovery rate of 54.77%.
“The approach adopted by the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) in containing the pandemic, which has also been commended by the World Health Organisation, has been inclusive, non-discriminatory and holistic, providing foremost importance to safeguarding the health and safety of not only its people but foreign nationals in its territory,” Mendis explained.
She added that steps taken by the Government to curb the spread of the virus did not at any point involve resort to emergency measures that would have required derogations from the exercise of fundamental freedoms, but were strictly limited to minimum temporary restrictions on movement in the interest of public health, in accordance with the due process of law, with the aim of protecting right across the country all sections of society during this pandemic, which too were fully lifted on 28 June.
“These public health measures were accompanied by a series of policies aimed at advancing the economic and social rights of particularly the vulnerable segments in society, such as support for low income families, older persons, the differently-abled, day income earners, farmers and industries, with a view to building their resilience to the effects of the pandemic,” she added.
The Sri Lankan representative noted that as the COVID-19 pandemic moved from one geographical region in the world to another, people were increasingly reminded of the stark inequalities that exist in our global landscape, which were often exacerbated by the effects of the pandemic and said the UN system, including the HRC, had a pivotal role in addressing these inequalities and in ensuring that no one was actually left behind in global efforts to overcome the COVID-19 crisis.
“Sri Lanka believes that genuine dialogue and cooperation among the international community is important to achieve this objective and we stand ready to share its experience and good practices with fellow nations and work in solidarity with them towards this end,” she added.