Geneva: Sri Lanka on Thursday faced a major embarrassment as the UN's top human rights body adopted a resolution censuring it for alleged war crimes in the conflict with LTTE as India joined the West in backing the US-sponsored move. In the 47-member UN Human Rights Council, 24 countries, including India, voted for the resolution and 15 against it, while eight nations abstained. Resolution won't change ties with India, US: Colombo Acting Media Minister Laksman Yapa Abeywardena told reporters that India's internal political situation has pushed New Delhi to vote in favour of the US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka. (Agencies)
India, which normally does not vote on nation-specific resolutions, made a last-minute departure in the current instance after overwhelming pressure from parties in Tamil Nadu, especially the DMK which had even considered pulling out its ministers from the government at the Centre, to vote against Sri Lanka.
Interestingly, India's neighbours like China, Pakistan and Bangladesh, voted against the motion. Maldives said the resolution was not necessary and Sri Lanka should be given time to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
The vote came after a spirited opposition from Sri Lankan Plantation Industries Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, who said no one from outside could dictate to his country about human rights.
The resolution asked the government to explain how it would address the alleged violations of international humanitarian laws and how it would implement the recommendations of the LLRC.
It also encouraged the UN Human Rights Office to offer Sri Lanka advice and assistance and the government to accept it.
Explaining its position on its vote for the resolution, India said it believes the primary responsibility for promotion and protection of human rights lies with the states.
It said while it subscribes to the broader message of the resolution and the objectives it promotes, it also underlined that any assistance from the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights or visits of UN Special Procedures should be in consultation with the Sri Lankan government.
"These are norms which all of us in the Council subscribe to. A democratic country like Sri Lanka has to be provided time and space to achieve the objectives of reconciliation and peace," the explanatory note said.
In the Council, India said, “Everyone has the responsibility to ensure that "our conclusions do contribute to this objective rather than hinder it."
India also urged the Sri Lankan government to take forward the process of broader dialogue and show concrete movement towards a meaningful devolution of powers, including the implementation of the 13th Amendment and beyond.
"We would also urge that Sri Lanka takes forward the measures for accountability and to promote human rights that it has committed to. It is these steps, more than anything we declare in this Council, which would bring about genuine reconciliation between all the communities of Sri Lanka, including the minority Tamil community," it said.
India said the UN Council has also been briefed by the government of Sri Lanka in this session on the series of steps taken to implement the report and other measures.
"We welcome these steps. We are confident that implementation of the report will foster genuine reconciliation," it said.
Noting that it cannot remain untouched by developments in Sri Lanka, India said it will continue to remain engaged with the country to take forward the process of reconciliation to secure for all its citizens a future marked by equality, dignity, justice and self-respect.
Sri Lanka on Thursday said its friendly ties with India and the US will not change despite a resolution being moved against it at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
"Sri Lanka's ties with India will not be affected over the decision it has taken," Abeywardena said adding that New Delhi could take independent decision over Sri Lanka considering the present crucial political situation. "
India's ruling party has lost some of the big states in the elections and all the parties in Tamil Nadu have gathered together to pressure the Central Government to support the US-backed resolution," Xinhua quoted Abeywardena as saying.
“We don't have any misunderstanding or ill-feeling about India. If we had similar internal problems we too would have taken such decision," he said.
However, Abeywardena said he was sure that India would support Sri Lanka at later stages when it is necessary.
"Whatever decisions taken by India and the US with regard to the resolution, that will be limited to that issue only," said the minister.
The US-backed resolution taken up at the 19th UNHRC sessions is to pressure Sri Lanka to implement the recommendation made by a domestically prepared war report and probe war crimes allegations in the final stage of the country's ethnic war against Tamil Tiger rebels. India, the closest neighbour of Sri Lanka with historical cultural and political ties, last Tuesday announced that it was inclined to support the resolution against Sri Lanka.
Geneva: Sri Lanka on Thursday faced a major embarrassment as the UN's top human rights body adopted a resolution censuring it for alleged war crimes in the conflict with LTTE as India joined the West in backing the US-sponsored move.
In the 47-member UN Human Rights Council, 24 countries, including India, voted for the resolution and 15 against it, while eight nations abstained.
Resolution won't change ties with India, US: Colombo
Acting Media Minister Laksman Yapa Abeywardena told reporters that India's internal political situation has pushed New Delhi to vote in favour of the US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka.