Sri Lanka issue: Govt raises reconciliation, probe issues at UNHRC

The government has been criticised for patting the Sri Lankan government for implementing India`s suggestions to implement the recommendations of LLRC Report.

New Delhi: Amidst stepped up pressure by the DMK that India vote against Sri Lanka on human rights issue at the UNHRC, the government on Sunday said it has stressed for action on issues like early progress towards reconciliation, apart from credible probe into alleged rights violations, during the UNHRC meet in Geneva.

The clarification by government came amidst threats by one of its key allies DMK to withdraw support on the issue. The government has been criticised for patting the Sri Lankan government for implementing India`s suggestions to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) Report and to promote trilingual policy.

India made the statement on Friday during the adoption of the Report of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group at the 22nd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

Recalling that India had made a statement on November 01, 2012 in the Working Group of the Human Rights Council during the discussion of the National Report of Sri Lanka for the UPR, wherein it had made several recommendations to Sri Lanka, the government said the March 15 meeting this year was a continuation of this process for the formal adoption of the Report of this Group.

"In a statement placed on the record at the formal adoption of this Report on Friday, 15th March 2013 India, while expressing appreciation of Sri Lanka`s acceptance of our recommendation to implement the recommendations of LLRC Report and to promote trilingual policy, also expressed the hope that other issues like early progress towards reconciliation, reduction of high security zones, return of private land by the military and phasing out of the security forces in civilian activities in the Northern Province will be done in an effective and timely manner," official sources said today.

"These are issues which have been stressed in our November 2012 statement as well. We also expressed our hope that the investigations of allegations of human rights violations and loss of civilian lives will be independent and credible and said that we look forward to speedy resolution of the residual issues pertaining to the resettlement and rehabilitation process, where welcome progress has been made," they said.

Though the statement, which was placed by India`s Permanent Representative to UN in Geneva, Dilip Sinha, does not give clear indication on government`s stand on the March 21 resolution in UNHRC, the DMK has threatened to pull out of UPA if India failed to push an amended US resolution against Sri Lanka.

According to the sources, the DMK is also not happy with the recent meeting between External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Sri Lankan officials which it sees as an effort to strike a deal between Sri Lanka and the US, so that India can be saved from voting.

Significantly, India`s appreciation of Sri Lanka was contrary to the view of the US which has expressed disappointment that Lankan government rejected all UPR recommendations from States that called upon it to implement the LLRC recommendations and called on the Lankan government to expeditiously implement both the UPR and LLRC recommendations.

In its support, India also pointed out that the report of the office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights has also acknowledged significant progress by Sri Lanka on rebuilding infrastructure and resettlement of IDPs.

"It may be recalled that in our November 2012 statement, we had reiterated that India will continue to be engaged in assisting Sri Lanka in its rehabilitation and resettlement efforts, which has helped in bringing about a modicum of normalcy in these areas," the official sources said.

"Further, in its March 15th Statement, India also noted the commitment by the Sri Lankan Government to holding Provincial Council elections in the Northern Province in September 2013 and mentioned that it is our expectation that the people of the Province would be able to exercise their democratic right as guaranteed to them by the Sri Lankan constitution at this time."

India wished Sri Lanka success in the implementation of its recommendations and urged the Government of Sri Lanka to expedite the process of a political settlement and work towards genuine national reconciliation, they said.

"Needless to add, these UPR discussions in the Human Rights Council, which have a four-year cycle and are in the nature of peer review, are held independently of the expressed intention of the United States to table a draft resolution," they added.