Right of Reply exercised by the Sri Lanka delegation at the general debate on Item 4:
Human Rights Situations that require the Council's attention

The Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office at Geneva
09th June 2008

(Mr. Shavindra Fernando, Deputy Solicitor-General delivering the statement on behalf of Sri Lanka on 06th June 2008 )

"Mr. President, let me first refer to the references made by Slovenia, on behalf of the EU and other EU countries, the Netherlands, France and the UK. My Ambassador, two days ago, advised the EU with an appropriate biblical quote to point its searchlight inwards before reaching outwards. However, the words of wisdom in Mathew 7:3 do not seem to have had their desired effect.

Mr. President, we regret that none of these countries mentioned above made any reference to the tragedies that happened this morning in my country. Two busses carrying civilians, men, women and children, were targeted by the LTTE, killing over 23 persons and injuring over 70 others. Further, two more bombs, one with over 40 kilograms of explosives, were detected and defused today preventing further disaster and calamity. This, Mr. President, is the threat civilians have to face day in and day out. The most important human right of all, the right to life, is being violated due to terrorist acts of the LTTE.

Mr. President, my Government wishes to thank the Government of Japan for the sympathies extended to the victims of the bus bomb tragedies today. We also thank the Government of Japan for its pledge of technical assistance and human resource training to enhance capacity of our national institutions. Sri Lanka has always believed in our national institutions and appreciates any assistance to enhance the capacity of such institutions.

Mr. President, the Government of Switzerland referred to the need for free and unimpeded access for humanitarian organisations to function in Sri Lanka. While appreciating the need for speedy access to humanitarian aid, security concerns cannot and will not be compromised. Today's events bare ample testimony to this.

To all countries which referred to an OHCHR field presence and monitoring, let me remind them that Sri Lanka, at its UPR less than a month ago, gave its position clearly with regard to such an office.

Further, Mr. President, we wish to state that, although we hold the High Commissioner Madam Louise Arbour in high esteem, the same cannot be said about the OHCHR. This Council as well as the former Human Rights Commission have passed many resolutions requesting that the OHCHR be better represented in terms of geographical representation. Little has been done to give effect to such resolutions. Once the OHCHR is better represented, it may be possible for countries like Sri Lanka to have more confidence in the OHCHR.

I thank you, Mr. President."




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