Lanka briefs UNHRC about progress made in implementing rights pledges

(MENAFN- NewsIn.Asia) Colombo, March 20 ( Sri Lanka on Monday gave to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) a list of steps it had taken to implement the pledges it had made in November 2017 as part of the Universal Periodic Review process.

On Monday, the UNHRC adopted the final report on Sri Lanka under the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review that took place in November 2017.

The review was done by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UPR Secretariat and the Troika of Sri Lanka's review – Republic of Burundi, the Republic of Korea, and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Out of the 230 recommendations that Sri Lanka received during the very constructive dialogue in November 2017, it accepted 177 recommendations along with 12 voluntary pledges, said Ravinatha Aryasinha, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva.

'On 5 December 2017, Sri Lanka acceded to the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, and designated the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka as the National Preventive Mechanism,' Aryasinha said.

'We have requested the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka to liaise with the Subcommittee to obtain the advice and technical expertise required for the effective and efficient operationalisation of the National Preventive Mechanism,' he said.

'Legislation to give effect locally, to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance was enacted by the passage of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance Bill in the Sri Lanka Parliament on 7 March 2018. This criminalises Enforced Disappearance.'

'On the recommendations made by the Constitutional Council as per the Office on Missing Persons Act, the President appointed the Chairperson and Commissioners for the Office on Missing Persons on 28 February 2018, making the Office fully operational.'

' At a meeting with the Chairperson and Commissioners on 28 February, the President assured them of the fullest support of the Government to ensure the effective functioning of the Office. We have circulated among delegations, the initial statement made by the Chairperson of the Office on Missing Persons on 12 March 2018.'

'Sri Lanka Rupees 1.4 billion (approximately 9 million USD) has been allocated in the National Budget for 2018, for the Office on Missing Persons. The Constitutional Council, in its selection process, has ensured that the Chairperson and Commissioners represent a cross-section of society, with individuals who possess experience in human rights as activists, ex-public servants and professionals, as well as a family member of a missing person.'

'Progress has been made in the drafting of new Counter Terrorism Legislation. We envisage a Counter Terrorism Act that conforms to human rights safeguards and other international standards and we expect the draft legislation to be gazetted for tabling in Parliament for consideration, once the established procedures including translation into local languages are completed, shortly.'

'The Cabinet of Ministers, on 6 March 2018, approved the formulation of legislation by the Legal Draftsman, for the establishment by law of an Office for Reparations. Once the draft legislation with translations into local languages is finalised, the draft Bill is expected to be gazetted shortly.'

'For a country that has experienced conflict, that now seeks to take measures to forge reconciliation and ensure non-recurrence, Sri Lanka's accession on 13 December 2017 to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on their Destruction (Ottawa Convention) and accession on 1 March 2018 to the Convention on Cluster Munitions are important steps.'

'Demonstrating firm commitment to the implementation of the provisions of the Convention, Sri Lanka received from 4-7 March 2018, the Special Envoy on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, Prince Mired Bin Ra'ad Al-Hussein.'

'Sri Lanka received the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention for an official country visit from 4-15 December 2017.'

'Moreover, Mr. President, amendments were brought to the Local Authorities Election Act and the Provincial Councils Election Act, ensuring a quota to elect female representatives to the Local Government and Provincial Councils which are important grass-root-level decision making bodies. At the recently concluded Local Government Elections held on 10 February 2018, the legislation ensuring 25% quota for women was implemented, securing a record number of women being elected.'

'For the effective implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan 2017-2021 which was shared with all delegations in November during Sri Lanka's review, a three-tier mechanism has now been established to regularly monitor progress being made by all the relevant line ministries and agencies, and to give necessary guidance and direction. All action points specified in the plan are being incorporated into the action plans of the relevant ministries and agencies.'

Anti-Muslim Rioting

Referring to the recent incidents that took place in certain parts of my country targeting members of the Muslim community who represent an integral part of the pluralistic society of Sri Lanka. Aryasinha said: ' These cowardly acts instigated by some organised groups and individuals who have no place in the democratic, pluralistic society of our country. Such acts go against our shared vision of a Sri Lanka where equal rights and rule of law are guaranteed for all.'

'We are determined to take action against all perpetrators of these incidents in accordance with the due process of the law. Victim compensation processes have already commenced; and arrests have been made as well.'

'As a result of these incidents, where it was discovered that social media and messaging platforms were being used not only to incite and spread hate and false messages but also to organise attacks, the Government was compelled to impose temporary restrictions on the use of social media. But all these restrictions have now been lifted. The Government as a result of this experience has now entered into active engagement with social media operators, particularly facebook, to work on the prevention of hate speech.'

'The emergency regulations which the Government was compelled to impose on 06 March 2018 as a measure to protect communities were rescinded on 17 March 2018.'

'What was heartening amidst the disturbing incidents, were the acts of compassion of the peace-loving people of my country that came to each other's help, and the public calls for unity and peace and the denouncing of hatred and violence by key members of the community – the clergy, community leaders, sports personnel, artists, and musicians – cutting across ethnic and religious lines,' Aryasinha said.

(The featured image at the top shows Ravinatha Aryasinha, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative in the UN in Geneva ,presenting Sri Lanka's position at the UNHRC)



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