The Minister of External Affairs, Professor G L Peiris met the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations, Subinay Nandy today and conveyed to him, the Government’s extreme discontent regarding the unprofessional manner in which the investigation on Sri Lanka is being conducted by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The Minister’s protest to the UN Resident Coordinator focused on the unacceptable way in which the deadline for submission of evidence to the investigation, 30 October, that had been originally set by the OHCHR had been changed unofficially and re-set once again.
As per the OHCHR’s call for submissions on its website, the deadline, 30 October, was definite and mandatory. However, the Spokesperson of the OHCHR, in response to a question from the Colombo Gazette and The Sunday Leader had later stated that, although officially the deadline was 30 October and will not be extended, it is understood that some material may take time to arrive and that submissions arriving late, therefore, will not necessarily be refused.
“Corresponding to this comment, the website of the OHCHR did not announce the closure of the e-mail address for the receipt of submissions even after the official deadline had passed. It was only pursuant to the matter having been taken up very strongly by the Government that the OHCHR later issued a news release announcing that submissions ended on 30 October and that the e-mail address had ceased to exist,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement today.
The Minister has told Nandy that what was particularly disturbing was that this development took place while a campaign to collect fabricated evidence was under way in Sri Lanka with the collusion of both local and foreign parties. He said that during this period, evidence was being concocted fraudulently in Sri Lanka on blank sheets of paper, with signatures procured under false pretences and with financial inducements. One of the main agents in this criminal enterprise was arrested, while another has left the country unlawfully.
The External Affairs Minister said that the spokesperson’s comment indicates that, although as far as the general public was concerned, no submissions could be made after 30 October, the investigation remained open to receiving a specific category of evidence which seems to have been anticipated.
Further, the Minister observed that no reasons have been given so far by OHCHR as to what inspired the Spokesperson to make a statement that was entirely inconsistent with the OHCHR’s original deadline and for the insistence much later, and in response to protests by the Government of Sri Lanka, that the submissions had ended on 30 October.
Expressing objection to OHCHR’s conduct that is inconsistent with essential standards of objectivity and fairplay, Professor Peiris questioned why such irregular behaviour has to be resorted to in carrying out this investigation which claims to be open, candid and fair. (MEA)