External Affairs Ministry comment on Resolution S. 84 adopted by the United States Senate

External Affairs Ministry comment on Resolution S. 84 adopted by the United States Senate

The Ministry of External Affairs wishes with regard to the Resolution (S.Res.84) adopted by the Senate of the United States on 1st March 2011, to emphasize the following:

(a)  the Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) of Sri Lanka has a wide ranging mandate, which among other matters clearly empowers the Commission to inquire into and report on the sequence of events up to the 19th of May 2009.  Hence, the LLRC mandate necessarily includes the capacity to consider any evidence indicating violations of international humanitarian or human rights law ;

(b)  the LLRC has set about its task in a most proactive manner.  The Commission has made it a point to engage in field visits to several locations in the areas that were affected by the conflict situation.  This has enabled the Commission to gather testimony from affected civilians including those in places of detention, rehabilitation and welfare centres for the internally displaced.  The material placed before the LLRC has also led to the Commission presenting a set of Interim Recommendations to the President of Sri Lanka. In order to follow up on these Recommendations, the President and the Cabinet of Ministers have established an Inter-Agency Advisory Committee ;

(c)  the LLRC has been established under the Commissions of Inquiry Act.  The strength it draws from its mandate has been bolstered by the legislation enacted by Parliament, including the Commissions of Inquiry (Amendment) Act No.16 of 2008.  It would be observed that Article 24 of this Act specifically empowers the Attorney-General to institute criminal proceedings based on material collected in the course of an investigation or inquiry by a Commission of Inquiry.

The Embassy of the United States in Sri Lanka in a Statement dated 3rd December 2010 “welcomed President Rajapaksa’s appointment of a Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission”.  It is an universally accepted legal principle that consideration needs to be given to international measures, only when national domestic recourse is unavailable.  Resolution S.84 in fact expressly states that the Government of Sri Lanka “has recognized, in the past, the necessity of a political settlement and reconciliation for a peaceful and just society”.  It is therefore all the more unfortunate that those who framed the text of the Resolution, have overlooked the capacity and strong track record of the LLRC as a domestic mechanism, to work for reconciliation and the further strengthening of national amity.

It is well known that motivated groups do target influential bodies such as the Senate of the United States, with a view to persuading those entities to adopt ill-founded positions.  It is therefore important that an equal opportunity should be afforded for alternate and more legitimate points of view to be heard, before a conclusion is reached.

Ministry of External Affairs

4th March 2011

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