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Am uncomfortable with UN resolution: Sri Lanka president

Posted on Feb 28 2014 | IANS

Colombo, Feb 28 : Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa Friday said he is "uncomfortable" with the US-led resolution to be presented at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and believes there should be no resolution at all.

The Sri Lankan government faces a US-led resolution before the UNHRC next month for failing to implement adequate reconciliation measures and investigate allegations of war crimes.

The resolution, the third consecutive one faced by the government, insists that Sri Lanka's human rights record has failed to improve since the conflict between the government and the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE) ended in 2009.

Among the serious concerns are the treatment of former combatants and detainees, attacks on religious minorities, suppression of media freedom as well as the lack of interest on the part of the government in making progress on accountability.

However, Rajapaksa has steadfastly dismissed the concerns of the international community and remains defiant despite the failure to defeat two resolutions in 2012 and 2013.

"We are uncomfortable with the resolution. There shouldn't be a resolution at all," Xinhua quoted him as saying during a meeting with foreign media in Colombo.

""We have done the best that we can," he said, elaborating on extensive infrastructure facilities costing an estimated USD 4.5 billion, demining, rehabilitation of 13,000 former LTTE carders, including former war zones in multiple elections as examples of progress.

Rajapaksa emphasised that human rights concerns are being addressed through home grown methods, including kicking off internal investigations into allegations of war crimes along with a special presidential commission to inquire into disappearances during the war.

Many countries among the 47-member UNHRC did not "have the appetite for this disproportionate response", External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris, who also participated in the meeting,said.

"There is simply no justification for such action year after year... they realise it is unfair," Peiris said.

Describing Sri Lanka's endeavour as a "David versus Goliath" battle, Rajapaksa nonetheless assured that he would keep fighting the resolution.

He said the resolution supported by mostly Western countries was motivated by the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora living in the US, Britain and Canada and the need of politicians to win votes by pleasing them.

Sri Lanka has been lobbying extensively ahead of the UNHRC to drum up support but Rajapaksa refused to predict how many votes the country would get or what their reaction would be if an international investigation was approved.

The government has rejected a report filed by UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay calling for an international probe into alleged war crimes.

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