Created: Wednesday, 21 August 2013
The statement made in Parliament by the Leader of the House and the Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Management, Hon. Nimal Siripala de Silva in response to the question posed by the Hon. Anura Dissanayake, MP., Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) on the position of the ‘Action Plan” for the implementation of LLRC recommendations.
At the outset, I wish to observe that the question submitted by the Hon. Anura Disssanayake, Member of Parliament, under Standing Order No. 23/2 has resulted from being completely misinformed.
I would like to emphasize that the Government has consistently sought to ensure non-internationalization of domestic issues. It is our steadfast position in this regard which provided the basis for Sri Lanka to categorically oppose any international initiatives which impinge on our national issues. There were a number of overtures made in seeking Sri Lanka’s cooperation with regard to the US initiated Resolution at the 19th Session of the Human Rights Council. However, it was decided that in the interest of keeping the self-respect of the people of Sri Lanka, it was prudent even to lose by opposing rather than accepting punitive measure from a part of the international community on solely domestic matters. Considering the might of the opposition, Sri Lanka was faced with in Geneva, it must be acknowledged that the final result demonstrated a complete division of the UNHRC and that too in a favourable manner to Sri Lanka, as it was by a mere one vote and thereby upheld the self-esteem of the Sri Lankan people.
The Hon. Dissanayake may note that the communication to visit Washington was delivered to the Hon. Minister of External Affairs at the end of January, 2012 and not as he said, following the adoption of the Human Rights Council Resolution which was in the 3rd week of March, 2012. We do not understand that basis of the Hon. MP’s observation that it was more an order than an invitation to visit Washington that was communicated to the Hon. Minister. In this context, quote from the letter of the US Secretary of State where she says.
“to help guide our thoughts on further action, I would like to invite you to Washington in March to discuss your plans to move ahead on reconciliation, accountability and Provincial Council elections in the North. The visit also would provide a favourable opportunity for you to meet with think tanks and our Congress to brief them…”
It is therefore, evident that this wording construes an invitation rather than an order.
As the Hon. MP is aware, the Government’s approach has been to ascertain observations of its constituent political parties. At the time the Minister visited Washington the positions of all the Government political parties had not been received, while those received were being processed. Therefore, compiling a fully fledged document containing an Action Plan is a misnomer. It is total fiction to state that a secret document containing the Action Plan had been handed over to the US Secretary of State at our meeting on 18th May 2012. This position is established by the very fact that the Spokesperson of the US Department of State, Victoria Nuland, in her briefing stated that the “the Foreign Minister presented a very serious and comprehensive approach to the LLRC recommendations and the plans that the Government has ….” I wish to emphasize her word ‘approach’. Therefore, at no point has even the US State Department Spokesperson stated that an Action Plan was presented. With regard to the approach on the implementation of the LLRC recommendations, it was explained to the US Secretary of State that there are 135 main recommendations with sub areas totaling 285, which for the ease of processing for implementation would be designated under four categories, vis-à-vis:
Ø Recommendations relating to national policy
Ø Recommendations pertaining to the final phase of the conflict
Ø Recommendations related to human rights and security issues
Ø Recommendations on resettlement, development and humanitarian issues.
Further, it was explained that some recommendations would be implemented through the Parliamentary Select committee and others by relevant institutions. It was also pointed out that the implementation would be directed out by the Presidential Secretariat under the purview of the Secretary to H.E. the President. It was further explained that the recommendations would be dealt with under short, medium and long-terms and implemented in a structured manner through prioritization. These steps therefore are our approach to the implementation of the recommendations.
The Hon. Minister also briefed Secretary of State, Clinton, as we normally do with other interested members of the international community, on the developments since he met her two years ago. This included the reintegration of ex-combatants, resettlement of the remaining IDPs, dismantling of the High Security Zones, status of demining, roll back of the Emergency Regulations, steps taken with regard to re-possession of land, local government elections in the North and the political process including the PSC.
It is therefore, abundantly clear that there is no truth whatsoever in the observations made by the Hon. Member of Parliament in the context of the question under reference.