Geneva: Sri Lanka is willing to accept justified criticism and helpful comments in a constructive spirit but will assail unjustified blatant propaganda created by groups or individuals with an agenda inimical to the country with all energy at country’s disposal, the Special Human Rights Envoy, Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe told the United Nations yesterday.
Addressing the 18th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva Monday, the Minister said the international network of Sri Lanka’s now defeated terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the well-organized anti-Sri Lanka diaspora is using every resource tirelessly to subject the country to unrelenting pressure.
He said the government has consistently warned against this threat and asked the friends of the country to treat the propaganda with caution and objectivity.
Quoting President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Minister said Sri Lanka is now in the process of Reconciliation and Reconstruction and all the energy and resources are diverted for that long term mission.
“Our immediate, medium and long term goals are a sustainable peace with equality, equity and the guarantee of human dignity,” the Minister emphasized.
Speaking of post-war reconstruction, Samarasinghe said Sri Lanka has achieved tremendous success in the mere 2 years since the end of the war in May 2009 and the government has taken the responsibility to provide resources to rebuild the conflicted areas along with the nationwide economic development.
The government has mobilized US$ 2.01 billion to develop the North under Joint Plan for Assistance to the Northern Province, a tripartite agreement with the UN system and the civil society.
The demining efforts in the conflict areas have been progressing with the Sri Lankan Army taking the lead role, the Minister told the session.
The Army supported by several international agencies has carried out 75-80 percent of successful demining operations, he said.
Infrastructure including roads, bridges, schools, water supply, health facilities that were destroyed by the LTTE has been rebuilt not just to replace them but at a vastly improved level to meet the future needs of the people of those areas, Samarasinghe explained. Referring to the resettlement of the displaced in the conflict areas, the Minister pointed out that the government has resettled the most of the 290,000 displaced at the end of the war in May 2009 and only 7,000 are remaining to be resettled.
The government has spent US$ 360 million for the resettlement program, he pointed out. Speaking of Sri Lanka’s own investigative mechanism Lesson Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) the Minister said it is inquiring in to the conflict and its causes and is evolving recommendations to ensure that such a situation never arises again in the country.
He stressed that it is critical to wait for LLRC to finish its deliberations and come up with conclusions in due time. “Rushing the processes unduly may compromise the effectiveness of the implementation of the eventual recommendations,” Samarasinghe told the HRC.
The members of LLRC are highly regarded professionals and they should be given time and space to come up with their findings and recommendations, he emphasized.
In conclusion of his speech, the Minister, referring to the transmission of the UN Expert Panel report on Sri Lanka by the UN Secretary General’s office to the office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, the failure on the part of the High Commissioner to inform the state in question – Sri Lanka is inappropriate and leads to a loss in the confidence in the office of the High Commissioner.
Noting that the incident raises serious concerns regarding the impartiality of the High Commissioner, the Minister asked the Council to discourage the practice as it will make a mockery of the Council.