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India backs US resolution against Lanka at UNHRC

Last updated on: March 21, 2013 19:06 IST

India along with 24 other countries on Thursday backed a United States-sponsored resolution at United Nations Human Rights Council against Sri Lanka asking it to conduct an "independent and credible" probe into allegations of human rights violations, an issue on which Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam pulled out of the ruling United Progressive Alliance government.

Thirteen member countries, including Pakistan, voted against and eight member-states abstained from voting on the contentious resolution on 'Promoting Reconciliation and Accountability in Sri Lanka' which was adopted in the 47- nation strong UNHRC. Gabon, a member-country could not vote due to voting rights issue.

The watered-down resolution also saw India's bid for tougher written amendments, which were not taken into the final document with the sponsors of the resolution maintaining that the attempt was to make it "broadest-possible" and with tougher amendments, the purpose will be defeated.

The UN resolution noted "with concern that the national plan of action and the Commission's report do not adequately address serious allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law."

It also expressed "concern at the continuing reports of violations of human rights in Sri Lanka, including enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, torture and violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, as well as intimidation of and reprisals against human rights defenders, members of civil society and journalists, threats to judicial independence and the rule of law, and discrimination on the basis of religion or belief."

During the intervention on the resolution, India's Permanent Representative Dilip Sinha said, "We reiterate our call for an independent and credible investigation into allegations of human rights violations and loss of civilian lives".

"We note with concern the inadequate progress by Sri Lanka in fulfilling its commitment to this Council in 2009. Further, we call on Sri Lanka to move forward on its public commitments, including on the devolution of political authority through full implementation of the 13th Amendment and building upon it," Sinha said.

India had given seven written amendments in six paragraphs which also talked about other accountability measures by Sri Lanka, which, in an official reaction in Colombo, said it "understood domestic compulsions" of the Indian government.

Moving the vote, the US said it "acknowledges the progress made in some areas but a lot more needs to be done," and added that Sri Lanka must "take meaningful action and address the growing concern."

Criticising the resolution, Sri Lanka at the UNHRC said, "The resolution presented here today is clearly unacceptable to Sri Lanka."

"The government of Sri Lanka totally rejects the attempts by the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner and proponents of this resolution," the Sri Lankan representative said.

He also said the resolution failed to recognise the progress made in the country in recent years, saying it is "replete with misrepresentations" on the situation in his country today.

India said it believes that the report of the Lessons Learnt Reconciliation Commission and its findings and recommendation provides a window of opportunity to forge a consensual way forward towards a lasting political settlement through genuine national reconciliation and the full enjoyment of human rights by all its citizens.

"India has always been of the view that the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka provided a unique opportunity to pursue a lasting political settlement, acceptable to all communities in Sri Lanka, including the Tamils," Sinha said.

"We call for effective and timely implementation of all the constructive recommendations contained in the LLRC report, including those pertaining to missing persons, detainees, disappearances and abductions, reduction of 'high security zones', return of private lands by the military and withdrawal of the security forces from the civilian domain in the Northern Province," he said.

"We reiterate our call for an independent and credible investigation into allegations of human rights violations and loss of civilian lives. We urge Sri Lanka to take forward measures to ensure accountability. We expect these measures to be to the satisfaction of the international community," the Indian permanent representative said.

Opposing the move, Pakistan said the resolution "would fail to engage Sri Lanka constructively and will negatively impact the ongoing process of reconciliation".

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