COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has set up a cabinet sub-committee to monitor the speedy implementation of the government’s action plan for ensuring human rights, a cabinet spokesman said here on Friday.
The timing of the formation of the cabinet sub-committee is significant because the US is planning to support a resolution critical of Lanka at the forthcoming session of the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) at Geneva. The UNHRC will be meeting from the end of February till the middle of March.
The announcement comes in the wake of international criticism that the Mahinda Rajapaksa government has not done enough to implement the recommendations of its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and also address issues of human rights and ethnic reconciliation which had been highlighted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s advisory panel on the rights situation in the island nation.
The cabinet sub-committee will consist of Nimal Siripala de Silva, Basil Rajapaksa, G L Peiris, Mahinda Samarasinghe, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, and Dilan Perera.
The expectation in diplomatic circles here is that the UNHRC will give Lanka a time-frame to implement some of the widely accepted recommendations of the LLRC.
Since the Lankan government has been saying that, as per international convention, the domestic process should be allowed to go through before international intervention takes place, Colombo might be allowed to complete the process but within a give time-frame.
In a letter to the Lankan Minister of External Affairs, G L Peiris, last month, the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, had unequivocally stated that the US would support a resolution calling upon Lanka to take “more concrete” action towards ethnic reconciliation and implementing the recommendations on “accountability” made by LLRC.
Clinton has invited Peiris to Washington for talks, and is sending top ranking officials to Colombo for discussions with Lankan leaders. Those coming to Colombo are Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs, Robert Blake, and Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, Marie Otero. The Ambassador at large for Global Criminal Justice, Steven Rapp, has already visited Lanka.