By The “Sunday Times” Political Editor
Sri Lanka has hit back at the United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s latest report calling for targeted sanctions, saying it is based on “speculative, presumptive and unsubstantiated opinions.”
It came in a 30-page response to her report which called for targeted sanctions — asset freezes, travel bans and the reference to International Criminal Court of those responsible for violating human rights and international human rights laws. For this purpose, the UN agency wants governments to use “extraterritorial or universal jurisdiction.” There is not a semblance of evidence, it asserted.
Ms Bachelet’s 17-page report has become the basis on which the United Kingdom backed by a core group of countries — Germany, Canada, Montenegro, and North Macedonia — will move a new resolution on Sri Lanka. At the Human Rights Council in Geneva this week, the UK delegation announced that “the resolution will be informed by the recent report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.”
According to diplomatic sources, “most of the observations and recommendations in Human Rights Commissioner’s report will be incorporated in the new resolution now taking shape.” There is also a suggestion that core group members represented diplomatically in Sri Lanka — the UK, Germany, and Canada — are examining elements for a consensus resolution but there were serious doubts that such a move would materialise.
UK High Commissioner Sarah Hulton, Canadian High Commissioner David McKinnon and Germany Ambassador Holger Seubert met Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena in Colombo this week to discuss matters related to the consensus resolution and the new one they propose to move. Also taking part were ministers G.L. Peiris, Mahinda Samarasinghe and Foreign Secretary Jayanath Colombage.
On Thursday, the same envoys met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. He briefed them on the position taken up by the Government.