President HE Mr. Martin Uhomoibhi 0pened by informing the plenary of the request received for the convening of the special session on the situation in Sri Lanka.
With the conflict ended the task of rehabilitation and reconciliation needed to begin. HRC expressed its willingness to work with the government of Sri Lanka, reminding that dialogue was the way to move forward.
A video message by Mrs. Pillay was played. Human rights and humanitarian consequences needed to be addressed. Media and humanitarian aid should be given access. IDPs needs were to be addressed. She spoke of the severe overcrowding. She said that unrestricted humanitarian aid was necessary. She pointed out that it was crucial to correct flaws to discern between civilian and LTTE members. LITTE had prevented civilians from leaving war zones, that this needed to be investigated. She spoke of the suicide attacks, the use of heavy artillery by the government and shelling on hospitals is grave. Victims right to remedies was reaffirmed. Pillay said, granting amnesties to those who had committed war crimes, hindered law from being implemented. It was important to heed the advise of the Secretary General, in his appeal to the government of Sri Lanka to address the root causes of this long lasted conflict.
Ms. Magdelaena Sepuldeva Carmona Independent expert on HR and Extreme Poverty, addressed the lack of transparency. Evoked the problem of IDPs. She reiterated the need to distinguish between combatants and civilians. She said that LTTE having used civilians as human shield had violated humanitarian law. Arbitrary detention was a persisting problem according to Sepuldeva. She informed that on the 18th of May, most vulnerable had been released from the camp but that there was a critical humanitarian situation, access to food, health care etc, that UN personnel were denied access to conflict zones. She listed the violations of HR, arbitrary detention incommunicado, persecution, Impunity, torture, extra judicial killings and forced disappearances. She said that HR defenders were held imprisoned without charge. That it was important to take measures for victims of HR abuses. She said it was necessary to establish the Rule of law and non discrimination with the right of minority, in society, constructive dialogue, assessment of what had happened.
Mr. HE Mr Haahina Samarasinghe, Minister of disaster and HR in Sri Lanka stated that there ws access to conflict zones, confirming that the conflict was over, challenge for sustainable peace and solution. He pointed out that the High Commissioner had failed to refer to this in her speech. He shared that the terrrorist organization had been eradicated after thirty years of conflict, that hostages been rescued. He corrected the information given earlier, denying malnutrition, starvation, and the like as untrue, also informing the access to 52 organizations to aid government in the urgent humanitarian work, adding that 250 000 are being taken care of currently. He said that the objective was to resettle all in their homes if they wished to do so. 9 000 surrenderees will be put through rehabilitation programme to reintegrate into the Sri Lankan society, there was collaboration with the UNDP, ILO and IOM towards this objective. Taht they were prepared for a post conflict era in rehabilitation. There was much work to do in demining, restoration of facilities, to provide basic services, infrastructure, sustainability...Military solution as a final solution was never the goal, socio- economic solution was the way forward seeking political solution through dialogue. He said they would continue to work with regional and cross regional groups. He hoped for support for the implementable resolution. Institutional structure and Independent judiciary was also necessary according to the Minister. He stated that there was consistent basis with 13 core HR legislation, that the mechanisms were there in place to protect children. He ended on an optimistic note upholding the diversity and multi-cultural aspect of Sri Lanka.
Czech Republic took the floor to firstly confirm the importance of convening the special session. It continued on to point out the problem of the IDPs, child soldiers recruited by the LTTE, the missing rule of law, problem of discrimination on the part of the Sri Lankan Government, that there was a need for due process, freedom of movement, IDPs needed to return to their homes the earliest possible, that the rights of victims needed to be respected, and that perpetrators of crimes needed to be brought to justice.
Cuba spoke on behalf of NAM and welcomed the Sri Lankan minister and said it was testimony of the government of Sri Lanka to the HR Council. Cuba saw the calling for the special session as lack of understanding on the part of those who had initiated it and hoped that such behaviour ought not to be repeated in the future. It recognized the post conflict work that would now be needed. Egypt on behalf of the African group also expressed its disappointment of the holding of the special sessions. It called for all to aid Sri Lanka in the reconstruction and rehabilitation process in the post conflict era. Pakistan for the OIC also against the convening of the sessions reiterated the need to aid Sri Lanka, naming the IDPs, child soldiers, as two of the most important problems to address at this time. It said that Sri Lanka was not a state with a record of HR violations, a functioning democracy and that the government of Sri Lanka was justified in its war against terrorism. Finally it called for support for Sri Lanka in the rebuilding that needed to happen. Qatar, China, India, Egypt, Cuba, Brazil, Malasia, Argentina Nicaragua, S. Arabia, Bolivia, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Zambia, Algeria, Bhutan, Thailand, Iran, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea and Sudan were other who strongly supported the government of Sri Lanka. All expressing similar concerns for IDPs, and child soldiers. S. Africa evoked double standards in regard to convening of the sessions, giving the example of the situation in Iraq without naming it as such to illustrate that no such measure had been taken at the time. Syria reminded of the Israeli aggressions going unaddressed. It was also explained by these states that there had been a lack of transparency in calling for the special sessions but all showed their good will in calling for support in aiding Sri Lanka towards progress.
Germany, Canada, Switzerland, Chile, UK, Italy, Israel, Austria, Australia, Ireland, Denmark and the US were amongst the “others” who perceived the calling of the special sessions as justified. They too evoked the problem of tens of thousands of IDPs and the recruitment of child soldiers by the LTTE, but added freedom of press, freedom of expression, arbitrary detentions, calling for the government of Sri Lanka to allow for humanitarian aid. Also requesting justice in prosecuting for human rights and humanitarian violations.
The NGO spoke out defending the rights of Tamil victims. None seem to have the slightest sympathy for the Government of Sri Lanka. Nord Sud XXI stood alone in presenting their view that the calling of special sessions by states not of the region was in itself incorrect and that there was risk of not abiding by the Charter of the UN in calling such sessions on a selective basis, hence giving the impression of not treating all states on equal basis. It upheld the need for human rights and humanitarian law to be respected by the government of Sri Lanka, called for the International community to aid Sir Lanka in demining the affected zones for displaced persons to be able to return to their homes in safety. Nord Sud XXI encouraged a political solution to be sought by the government of Sri Lanka through constructive dialogue with minority groups especially the Tamils. It finally called for the international community to aid Sri Lanka in the rebuilding process towards achieving lasting peace in the 29 para document, the L1 Rev 2. With the joint statement of the Secretary general and Government of Sri Lanka fully endorsed in the resolution. There was a package of amendments proposed by Germany, rule 117, evoked by Cuba calling for the closure of the debate. There was a vote on the motion. This concluded with a yes majority. There was a vote on the adoption of the L1 Rev2 which concluded with the adoption of resolution in question. Several states explained their position. Canada voiced particularly strong thoughts in a clearly arrogant tone making further demands of the Government of Sri Lanka, one wondered what gave Canada the right to express such superiority.