Sri Lanka seeks more time & space on rights issue

Colombo: Ahead of a crucial vote in UNHRC over its its alleged human rights violations, Sri Lanka on Friday asked the international community to adopt a balanced approach towards its achievements and sought more "time and space" to resolve all outstanding issues.

Making a presentation at the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva on Friday, Human Rights Envoy Mahinda Samarasinghe put forward Sri Lanka's record of achievements since the end to the conflict with the LTTE in 2009.

"Please be balanced. You can bring our attention to any outstanding issues. We need time and space," Samarasinghe said.

"We have never come to this council to tell that everything is fine in Sri Lanka. We have put on record the progress we have made. We have also acknowledged that there are challenges ahead of us. We are only asking for time and space."

Samarasinghe said Sri Lanka received a total of 204 recommendations at last year's UN review. Sri Lanka was supportive of 113 of them and it had set out reasons why Sri Lanka would not be able to agree with 91 of recommendations.

Samarasinghe said that the government had already made budgetary provisions needed to implement the national action plan of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report.

Next week Sri Lanka's accountability and reconciliation progress would come under further scrutiny when US would move a resolution at the UNHRC.

US adopted a similar resolution last year with India's support which bound Sri Lanka to make rapid progress on reconciliation with the Tamils.

Contesting reported deaths of 40,000 civilians during the war with the LTTE as unverified, Samarasinghe said Sri Lanka was in the process of ground verification of facts in the former battle zones to ascertain the real numbers.