Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena emphasized the Government’s commitment to achieving accountability and human rights within the framework of the Constitution. This is towards sustainable peace and reconciliation, through the appointment of a domestic Commission of Inquiry. It will be achieved by implementing policies rooted in the Government’s commitments to operationalize the Sustainable Development Goals. He said Sri Lanka will continue to work with the assistance of the UN and its agencies to achieve the aims. It was noted that the existing reconciliation mechanisms established by Acts of Parliament such as the Office on Missing Persons and the Office for Reparations will be continued, with appropriate adaptation in line with the Government policy framework.
High Commissioner Bachelet thanked Minister Gunawardena for his participation in the High-Level Segment of the HRC. She regretted Sri Lanka’s withdrawal as a co-sponsor of the HRC Resolution on Sri Lanka. The High Commissioner appreciated the Government’s assurance to the HRC of its continued cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner and UN bodies, and the observations on the Office on Missing Persons and the Office for Reparations.
The Sri Lanka delegation shared its perspective on a number of areas, including the need for closure, adequate funding to reconciliation measures, shortcomings in the former Counter Terrorism Bill and the Government’s intention to undertake a review of the Prevention of Terrorism Act with a view to proposing necessary amendments to its provisions.
The High Commissioner also engaged the Minister and delegation on the challenges faced in dealing with freedom of expression and the prevalence of hate speech and abuse of social media, technology and human rights and environment and human rights.