19 November, 2019

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We Are Signing International Convention On Enforced Disappearances Today

By Mangala Saraweera

Mangala Samaraweera -Minister of External Affairs

Mangala Samaraweera -Minister of External Affairs

Today is International Human Rights Day. And as in the past, Sri Lanka will join the countries of the world in commemorating this important even. But this year, Sri Lanka’s commemorations will not only be symbolic – they will also be substantive. So I am very pleased to announce that Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN will be signing the International Convention on Enforced Disappearances later today in New York.

Sixty-seven years ago, in 1948, as the world was still recovering from the unspeakable horrors of the Second World War, delegates from around the world convened to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, affirming every person’s right to liberty, equality, and justice under the law.

In commemorating that event, 10th December, is celebrated internationally as ‘Human Rights Day’.

This year’s Human Rights Day, internationally, will be marked by the launch of a year-long campaign to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which were adopted by the UN General Assembly on 16 December 1966.

The campaign titled “Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.”, revolves around the theme of rights and freedoms – freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

Today is a special day for us in Sri Lanka as well. It is the first Human Rights Day since the January 8th Presidential election and the launch of an era of consensus-based politics under the leadership of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

During the last decade or so, in Sri Lanka, human rights were spoken of as an alien concept, the universal values of democracy, human rights, rule of law were made out to be alien concepts or western values infringing on our country’s sovereignity.

On the 8th of January, the people of this country, upholding the best traditions of democracy, used the power of the ballot to vote for change. The people of Sri Lanka acknowledged that each and every human being, not only in this country but all over the world, irrespective of race, creed, gender or income level – are bound by common and inalienable rights that we share as human beings. By just this singular act alone, Sri Lanka took the world by surprise and captured the attention of the international community. By repeating this feat on the 17th of August, the people of this country, together with the Government, have undertaken to travel on the path of establishing good governance, rule of law, and human rights, including taking steps for reconciliation, and non-recurrence – essential ingredients to achieve durable peace, security, sustainable development and prosperity for all.

Just last night, the Cabinet of Ministers, in keeping with the mandate and vision of the Government to promote and protect the human rights of all citizens and ensure non-recurrence, took a decisive step to immediately sign the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which demonstrates the seriousness with which the Government considers this issue. In keeping with this decision taken last night, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Mission in New York will today, 10th December, sign the Convention. The Cabinet of Ministers also authorised the Legal Draftsman to undertake the drafting of necessary legislation to give effect to the provisions of the Convention, and the ratification of the Convention once enabling legislation is passed by Parliament early next year.

It is now the duty of the officials concerned to expedite the drafting of the necessary legislation; the duty of Members of Parliament to enact legislation, and guarantee operationalisation and implementation of its provisions to ensure that such crimes do not take place in this country ever again.

We all know that this is an issue that has plagued and pained our nation for long years. All, irrespective of race, religion, language or geographic location, have been affected by this crime for several decades, even in situations that are unrelated to conflict or unrest. The criminalization of enforced disappearance will provide protection to each and every citizen of this country from this crime and will help ensure that the terror of the White Van culture does not reign in our society ever again.

We must also remember that the alleged opposition between security and human rights is a false one. The right to life, the right to live without fear, the right to seek the protection of the law are all human rights. But so is the right to freedom, the right to non-discrimination and the right of self-expressions. These rights, for the most part, complement rather than contradict each other. And where there is a tension the rights need to be balanced to ensure that each and every citizen can live a flourishing life.

As a Government, we are dedicated to strengthen the human rights of all, strengthen the rule of law and the national Human Rights Commission.

We all know that there can be no lasting peace, no prosperity in our land unless all enjoy freedom and justice as equals. Therefore, we must, as a nation, dedicate ourselves, to not resort, as in the past, to defending the human rights ‘records’ of our Governments but to instead stand up always to defend human rights as a mature and responsible nation. Stand up, speak and act at all times in defence of the human rights of all our citizens. This is in our own interest as a nation. There is no need to be defensive about granting to our people, the rights which are due to them. There is no need to fear having a frank and honest dialogue with human rights defenders and UN Special Procedures or our bilateral partners. Engagement makes us stronger. President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have shown us the way. This is not a partisan issue. Strengthening human rights must receive the support of all, including all in Parliament. Related legislation must not mistakenly be viewed as partisan. Human rights is something that must be considered at a supranational level. Upholding rights, putting in place due legislation, strengthening the rule of law, establishing the independence of related institutions including the judiciary will benefit all, each and every individual, beyond party politics, beyond race, religion or creed.

Upholding human rights at home also enables us to credibly point towards injustice and oppression in the world. In fact, Sri Lanka was once a country that was able to call on the world’s conscience – raising issues that affected the populations of the entire developing world on the world stage. If we are to regain that position and act a voice and inspiration for others around the world, we must ensure that human rights at home are protected and secure.

Our experience, and the experience of all humanity, tells us that our rights will remain without their real substance unless there are real improvements in the lives of our people. Therefore, all of us, not only Governments, but also citizens must play an important role in ensuring that this fact must be borne in mind in crafting policies and programmes for national development.

The leaders of all political parties need to guard with vigilance the precious peace that they have promoted by working together, lest enemies of progress plunge communities into insecurity again in order to achieve their own selfish interest.

One more issue is that the Government or the people cannot and must not rest content with having our rights written into our constitution or into legislation. We must constantly strive to make them a living reality and ensure that provisions of our Constitution and legislation are enforced and implemented.

Above all, for all of us truly to enjoy our rights, we need to achieve a lot more progress in reconstruction and development; in growing our economy; in taking action against criminals and rooting out corruption; in entrenching our democracy and making our public service more efficient.

These are government’s priorities and we need the help of all to achieve them.

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Latest comments

  • 1
    0

    The existence of political prisoners without trial for periods of up to fifteen years, and,
    the presence of obstacles for citizens to give evidence due to intimidation, bribery including cash & “death certificates” before a commission investigating ‘disappearances’,
    are in complete contravention of:
    The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights legislation:-

    http://www.srilankalaw.lk/Volume-IV/international-covenant-on-civil-and-political-rights-iccpr-act.html

    Laws enforcing the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural and Rights, are yet to be written into Law.

    This late attempt to legislate the provisions of:
    The International Convention for the Protection of all persons from Enforced Disappearances
    is most welcome.

    Investigation of recent assault by policemen on unarmed student demonstrators is yet to begin.
    The Minister should expedite this.

    • 1
      1

      One can gloat about: “We Are Signing International Convention On Enforced Disappearances Today” but it is another matter to enforce it.

      There are several laws flouted for years in Sri Lanka and the practice still continues.

      The problem with Sri Lankan regimes is that they don’t implement laws without exceptions, nether do they keep their promises.

  • 3
    0

    Good tactical move but tell me why the US, and UK are NOT signatories yet Mister Samaraweera?France has signed, German has signed. Why hasn’t Uncle Sam as in USA FAILED TO SIGN IT?

    Here is the list
    https://treaties.un.org/pages/viewdetails.aspx?src=treaty&mtdsg_no=iv-16&chapter=4&lang=en

    Albania
    6 Feb 2007
    8 Nov 2007
    Algeria
    6 Feb 2007

    Angola
    24 Sep 2014

    Argentina
    6 Feb 2007
    14 Dec 2007
    Armenia
    10 Apr 2007
    24 Jan 2011
    Austria
    6 Feb 2007
    7 Jun 2012
    Azerbaijan
    6 Feb 2007

    Belgium
    6 Feb 2007
    2 Jun 2011
    Belize
    14 Aug 2015 a
    Benin
    19 Mar 2010

    Bolivia (Plurinational State of)
    6 Feb 2007
    17 Dec 2008
    Bosnia and Herzegovina
    6 Feb 2007
    30 Mar 2012
    Brazil
    6 Feb 2007
    29 Nov 2010
    Bulgaria
    24 Sep 2008

    Burkina Faso
    6 Feb 2007
    3 Dec 2009
    Burundi
    6 Feb 2007

    Cabo Verde
    6 Feb 2007

    Cambodia
    27 Jun 2013 a
    Cameroon
    6 Feb 2007

    Chad
    6 Feb 2007

    Chile
    6 Feb 2007
    8 Dec 2009
    Colombia
    27 Sep 2007
    11 Jul 2012
    Comoros
    6 Feb 2007

    Congo
    6 Feb 2007

    Costa Rica
    6 Feb 2007
    16 Feb 2012
    Croatia
    6 Feb 2007

    Cuba
    6 Feb 2007
    2 Feb 2009
    Cyprus
    6 Feb 2007

    Denmark
    25 Sep 2007

    Ecuador
    24 May 2007
    20 Oct 2009
    Finland
    6 Feb 2007

    France
    6 Feb 2007
    23 Sep 2008
    Gabon
    25 Sep 2007
    19 Jan 2011
    Germany
    26 Sep 2007
    24 Sep 2009
    Ghana
    6 Feb 2007

    Greece
    1 Oct 2008
    9 Jul 2015
    Grenada
    6 Feb 2007

    Guatemala
    6 Feb 2007

    Guinea-Bissau
    24 Sep 2013

    Haiti
    6 Feb 2007

    Honduras
    6 Feb 2007
    1 Apr 2008
    Iceland
    1 Oct 2008

    India
    6 Feb 2007

    Indonesia
    27 Sep 2010

    Iraq
    23 Nov 2010 a
    Ireland
    29 Mar 2007

    Italy
    3 Jul 2007
    8 Oct 2015
    Japan
    6 Feb 2007
    23 Jul 2009
    Kazakhstan
    27 Feb 2009 a
    Kenya
    6 Feb 2007

    Lao People’s Democratic Republic
    29 Sep 2008

    Lebanon
    6 Feb 2007

    Lesotho
    22 Sep 2010
    6 Dec 2013
    Liechtenstein
    1 Oct 2007

    Lithuania
    6 Feb 2007
    14 Aug 2013
    Luxembourg
    6 Feb 2007

    Madagascar
    6 Feb 2007

    Maldives
    6 Feb 2007

    Mali
    6 Feb 2007
    1 Jul 2009
    Malta
    6 Feb 2007
    27 Mar 2015
    Mauritania
    27 Sep 2011
    3 Oct 2012
    Mexico
    6 Feb 2007
    18 Mar 2008
    Monaco
    6 Feb 2007

    Mongolia
    6 Feb 2007
    12 Feb 2015
    Montenegro
    6 Feb 2007
    20 Sep 2011
    Morocco
    6 Feb 2007
    14 May 2013
    Mozambique
    24 Dec 2008

    Netherlands 1
    29 Apr 2008
    23 Mar 2011
    Niger
    6 Feb 2007
    24 Jul 2015
    Nigeria
    27 Jul 2009 a
    Norway
    21 Dec 2007

    Palau
    20 Sep 2011

    Panama
    25 Sep 2007
    24 Jun 2011
    Paraguay
    6 Feb 2007
    3 Aug 2010
    Peru
    26 Sep 2012 a
    Poland
    25 Jun 2013

    Portugal
    6 Feb 2007
    27 Jan 2014
    Republic of Moldova
    6 Feb 2007

    Romania
    3 Dec 2008

    Samoa
    6 Feb 2007
    27 Nov 2012
    Senegal
    6 Feb 2007
    11 Dec 2008
    Serbia
    6 Feb 2007
    18 May 2011
    Sierra Leone
    6 Feb 2007

    Slovakia
    26 Sep 2007
    15 Dec 2014
    Slovenia
    26 Sep 2007

    Spain
    27 Sep 2007
    24 Sep 2009
    St. Vincent and the Grenadines
    29 Mar 2010

    Swaziland
    25 Sep 2007

    Sweden
    6 Feb 2007

    Switzerland
    19 Jan 2011

    Thailand
    9 Jan 2012

    The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
    6 Feb 2007

    Togo
    27 Oct 2010
    21 Jul 2014
    Tunisia
    6 Feb 2007
    29 Jun 2011
    Uganda
    6 Feb 2007

    Ukraine
    14 Aug 2015 a
    United Republic of Tanzania
    29 Sep 2008

    Uruguay
    6 Feb 2007
    4 Mar 2009
    Vanuatu
    6 Feb 2007

    Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)
    21 Oct 2008

    Zambia
    27 Sep 2010
    4 Apr 2011

    • 2
      1

      Why does the US not sign ?
      Why have they they told the ICC to go xxxx itself ?

      and why do they insist that WE sign ???

      Why are we so eager to comply ?

      • 3
        0

        “”Why are we so eager to comply ? “

        French and Germans sign it like the Ottomans.

    • 0
      2

      As far as Samaraweera is concerned, it is a case of ” Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die “.

    • 2
      2

      Mano Ratwatte

      ” Why hasn’t Uncle Sam as in USA FAILED TO SIGN IT?”

      Here is the contact details of US Embassy in Colombo:

      U. S. Embassy
      210 Galle Road,
      Colombo 03,
      Sri Lanka
      Phone: +94(11)249-8500
      Fax: +94(11)243-7345

      I suggest you drop a line to the public relation officer for further information and await for response.

      • 1
        1

        Both US/UK have it in their own law.
        Where are the Wall street protesters???

    • 0
      0

      Managala SamaraWeera [Edited out]

  • 1
    0

    However it is a good move to protect all citizens now that the war is over. It is also a good starting point for bringing SL out of isolation. But please ask Samantha Power why they have refused to sign it. A lot of Iraqis disappeared during the “liberation” of Eye-Rack

    • 3
      0

      “However it is a good move to protect all citizens now that the war is over. “

      Selective protection has always existed- dictators don’t drink.

      “It is also a good starting point for bringing SL out of isolation. “

      Embargo should have come in for the people to wake up from slumber.
      Buruva’s need a whip crack.You will come to the same state by stealth before you reverse course- that is the law of nature of Lanka.

    • 4
      0

      Mano Ratwatte,

      Baseball loving Power is geared to fight for women of a man- made and man-ruled society.Unlike the Ratwattes (sirima chandrika)of Lanka the bane of suffering.

      The admonition from the American ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, followed a new round of accusations received by the UN mission in the African country, known as MINUSCA, against peacekeeping troops accused of sexually assaulting women and young girls.

      Power, in strongly worded testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the alleged crimes “egregious” and “horrific.”

      Her testimony came a day after a French court heard charges against four French soldiers suspected of raping child refugees in the African country in 2013 and 2014.
      read more–
      http://news.yahoo.com/us-seeks-transparency-alleged-rapes-un-peacekeepers-183805053.html

  • 0
    0

    Mr.Samaraweera!

    You are joining the Tamil leadership in duping the Tamil people Or the Tamil leadership has joined you in cheating the Tamil people. Which is which? You can sign many conventions but it should be practised on the ground. There is no point in signing the International Convention on enforced disappearances and yet white van abductions are still being continued by the Government , according to the Northern provincial Council Chief Minister. Thousands of mothers and sisters are still crying to find out their loved ones, where they are and what happened to them and what happened to those who surrendered to the Army. Everyone knows many young female fighters who surrendered were taken away in a truck, systematically raped and then murdered by the armed forces. You hypocrites are living in luxury and not at all concerned about their cries because they are Tamils. You will all suffer in hell. That is for sure and that is why Mr.Sarath Fonseka has changed his face now.

    • 0
      0

      Sellam,
      Apart from the people who disappeared after having been loaded into buses in full sight of hundreds,
      the whereabouts of ‘Tamil Women’s Regiment’ which had an impressive march-past – videos shown in the army website – sometime last year, is not known.
      Many of them were recruited by threats and coercion by the army, from households in the Wanni.
      Its soldiers are nowhere in the north, not in the east and not seen in the south.
      What has happened to this regiment?

  • 0
    1

    Sri Lanka signed to UN Chaeter. Did Sri Lanka respected UN during the war. Didn’t UN self censure after investigation of its conduct during the war? Why could not Lankawe sign the ICC accord a request of High Commission Prince Zeid? Because it can hurt the Sinhala Intellectual Politics?

    Dupe masters have the PTA and having the prisoners inside, in addition, to the uncleared army torture chambers. Vidya’s case could not come to court properly. No talk about Sarina at all. Now Udhayakumar Ushanthini was murdered with a navy truck. The truck went to camp without stopping for investigation. Colombo is suppressing the investigation of that murder. So what is going to happen by signing? The Chief Minister has said Colombo is not give the North what is due for them, democratically. All what they are doing is trying to break-in CV and make a Karuna, Pillayan, Douggee out of him. The truth, little by little they are making another Leader Pirapaharan.

  • 1
    0

    What a fool! Doesn’t he know Sri Lankans are savage animals who can only be ruled by dictators? The ability to disappear its citizens with consequences in crucial to the success of the Sri Lankan state. This is what the Rajapaksas understand and these yahapalanaya idiots will never get.

  • 2
    0

    Treaty or No treaty the nation has always done what it liked.

    Remember notoriety of drug dealer after hijacking an Alitalia Boeing 747 with 340 passengers on June 30, 1982.
    Sepala Ekanayake(hambantota) Gets $300,000 in Hijack IANS July 9 1982.
    Did he serve his conviction? No because he murdered tamil inmates at magazine prison and was released to be a well to do Jeep dealer today.

    Southern politicians wriggle their way out.

  • 0
    0

    Signing is very good for the future of Sri Lanka.

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