8:42 AM

UNHRC: Lanka gains 101 votes

UN: Sri Lanka yesterday obtained an absolute majority at the vote for the UN Human Rights Council, gaining 101 out of 192 votes on offer.

Out of the six countries which vied for four slots on offer for Asia, Japan, South Korea, Bahrain and Pakistan secured seats leaving behind Sri Lanka and East Timor. Candidates for the council are chosen by regional groups, and the 192-member General Assembly votes by region by secret ballot.

Analysts said yesterday that 101 countries expressing confidence in Sri Lanka, enabling it to obtaining an absolute majority was in itself was a victory despite an anti-Sri Lanka campaign by some individuals and organisations.

Any such criticism regarding Sri Lanka's human rights record should only be levelled after a careful study of the whole picture, in addition to giving due consideration to the views of all parties, said Disaster Management and Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe on the eve of the vote yesterday.

The Minister said that comments by former US President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and some other groups to this effect were ill timed, and that they had never given the Government a chance to answer the allegations beforehand.

He also alleged that some local groups and individuals with vested interests too were behind this campaign to prevent Sri Lanka's continued presence at the Council. The report of the working group on the Universal Periodic Review of Sri Lanka was unanimously adopted on Monday at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The Minister said that Sri Lanka's National report, which was presented at the UPR had come in for high praise at the working group, as a comprehensive and detailed document that was forthright and candid about the situation facing Sri Lanka.

Commenting on the report the Minister said that it presented a descriptive and accurate picture of the prevailing human rights situation and identified national priorities and capacity building needs.

He also said that the report highlighted strengths and identified challenges Sri Lanka faces as a nation in its efforts to promote and protect human rights. As a founder member of the Council formed in 2006, Sri Lanka has played a constructive role to develop mechanisms such as the UPR and also to engage in institution building of the Council he said.

He also noted that as a former coordinator of the 13 member Asian regional grouping within the Council and as the holder of the Vice-presidency since 2007, Sri Lanka has helped to build consensus and has cooperated with fellow member states to uplift human rights promotion and protection in the globe.

For two seats in the group of Western states, France received 123 votes and Britain 120 votes - just one vote more than Spain which got 119 votes. The other contested race was for two seats in the Eastern European group. Slovakia and Ukraine defeated Serbia and the Czech Republic.

Courtesy: Daily News