Colombo, September 20: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Tuesday told the UN General Assembly that hasty steps towards ethnic reconciliation and war time accountability will not yield the desired results.
Addressing the UN General Assemby in New York on Tuesday, Sirisena said: “Haste will not yield good results and the slow and steady path is the most suitable one to restore religious and communal harmony so that people of all communities could live in peace and harmony as equal citizens.”
Having been a member of the UN for the last 62 years ,Sri Lanka has adhered to the UN conventions, policies and principles he pointed out. Therefore the world should show, “patience, understanding and support for its slow, but steady march to create a peaceful and prosperous country for its people.”
Sirisena called upon the international community to seriously consider the tremendous progress made by the government towards reconciliation, restoration of democratic freedoms, human rights and the rule of law.
During the last two and a half years, the government has taken several important steps that are necessary for consolidating democracy, freedom, good governance, and the rule of law.
“Through such transformative steps, we have laid the foundation necessary to forge national reconciliation, and ensure non-recurrence of conflict in our country,” he said.
“As a country that has suffered violent conflict for 30 years, we are drawing from experience and lessons learned to strengthen national reconciliation, and we are determined to prevent the recurrence of conflict.”
“We have given priority in this context to consolidate freedom and democracy in our country, and through a strong foundation of national reconciliation forged through unity and friendship among communities,” the President said.
Sirisena’s fervent appeal for the world’s patience has to be seen against the background of the sharp criticism his government was subjected to by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid Ra’ad bin Hussein at the Human Rights Council earlier this month.
He lambasted Colombo for tardy progress in setting up post-war accountability mechanisms and taking steps to bring about ethnic reconciliation.
Calling for concrete steps, Zeid said that government should not be merely taking symbolic actions like “ticking boxes” merely to satisfy the international community.
On the tardiness in setting up mechanisms to address war crimes charges against the armed forces, Zeid said the any further delay will make the application of Universal Jurisdiction “all the more necessary.”
That threat meant that international institutions, countries and individuals can take judicial action against Sri Lankans accused of war crimes.
Already, a case had been filed in Brazil against former Sri Lankan Army Commander Gen.Jagath Jayasuriya. The US did not give former Army Commander Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka a visa to go to New York to attend the on-going UN General Assembly session, even though he was, as a cabinet minister, part of the Sri Lankan delegation led by President Sirisena.