SL delegation tells UNHRC proceedings in Geneva: ‘Military presence in North rationalized’‘Current military strength in North reduced to 20,000’‘HSZs reduced by 40 pc as part of redevelopment strategy’
Posted on June 23rd, 2012

Chamikara WEERASINGHE- Courtesy The Daily News

The Sri Lankan delegation to United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva told the Council during its third day’s proceedings that Sri Lanka’s current military strength in the North has been reduced to 20,000, and that further rationalization of this presence would be considered in line with the country’s national security interests.

According to reports from Geneva, the delegation headed by Acting Permanent Representative to United Nations in Geneva Manisha Gunasekera pointed out to the Council the military strength in the North has reduced considerably since the termination of the government’s military operations in the North.

She noted the role of the military today in the North is confined to security related matters and the present level of security presence in the Jaffna peninsula is approximately 20 000 and further rationalization of this presence would be considered in line with national security interests.

“High Security Zones (HSZ) have also reduced by 40 per cent as part of the government’s post-war redevelopment strategy,” she pointed out at the Council.

The Sri Lankan delegation maintained that the country continues to believe that the adoption of US-sponsored resolution at the 19th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council is “ill-conceived.”

“The resolution was completely unnecessary and unwarranted and it does not add any value to the ongoing domestic efforts,” the members of the Sri Lankan delegation said.

“This action has caused mistrust about international processes among the people of Sri Lanka,” they pointed out. “It runs counter to our domestic efforts. We are mindful of these concerns of our people, and therefore we will resolutely pursue a homegrown solution on reconciliation, which has their endorsement,” they said.

They further said, “the Resolution on Sri Lanka at the 19the Session, is a highly selective and arbitrary process which is not governed by objective norms or criteria of any kind.”

“We are also conscious of the very real danger of such action setting a precedent which enables ad hoc intervention by some countries in the internal affairs of other nations. It is our firm belief that it is vitally important for the structures and procedures of multilateral organizations to be uniform and consistent, and devoid of discrimination.”

“The mechanisms of the Council should be utilized with greater transparency,” they stressed.

The delegation requested the Council to support Sri Lanka to face its own challenges and said that it was paramount that Sri Lanka is provided time and space to face them considering the changes it has undergone already in the post-conflict set-up. External Affairs Ministry Karunatilleke Amunugama said, the delegation informed the Council about the country’s commitment to pursue the implementation of the recommendations in the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission report. The delegation has apprised the Council that some of the recommendations are already in a stage of implementation.

Explaining the Government’s approach to implement the recommendation, the delegation said the process is directed by the Presidential Secretariat under the supervision of Presidential Secretary for the ease of implementation. The recommendations will be implemented in a structured manner through prioritization determined by the interests of the country and its people, they told the Council. Some recommendations would be implemented through the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) while relevant institutions would implement others

To expedite implementation process 1,133 officials of Tamil ethnicity are serving in the Sri Lanka Police Department and 436 of these officers have been assigned to the North, while 377 serve in the East.

The National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (NHRAP) is currently being implemented, monitored by a national committee of implementing agencies.

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