Colombo will make a frantic, last-ditch attempt on Tuesday to persuade members of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) to re-elect Sri Lanka, overshadowed by allegations of gross human rights violations, to the 47-member council on May 21 in New York, The Nation newspaper reported today.
Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe will leave for Geneva today, where he is expected to make a strong case as to why Sri Lanka should be included in the council and highlight what the country has done so far to maintain human rights and the action that has been taken against the purported violators.
Samarasinghe will represent Sri Lanka at the Universal Period Review of the HRC on May 13.
`This meeting on Tuesday will definitely have an impact on the elections to be held on May 21. We will present our country report, which will speak on what we have done to protect and promote human rights in Sri Lanka,` Samarasinghe said.
All 47 members will be subjected to the Universal Period Review. Sri Lanka, elected in 2006 to the council, will face re-elections on May 21 in New York. Sri Lanka will compete against Pakistan, Bahrain, Timor-Leste, Japan and South Korea for one of the remaining four seats in the council.
When asked about Sri Lanka`s chances at the election, the Minister said, `We are sure that we can confidently respond to the questions of the countries interested in Sri Lanka and that there would be a positive outcome from the meeting.`
The Nation also reliably learns that several fronts with close links to the LTTE are also in New York campaigning against the re-election of Sri Lanka to the council.
Meanwhile, already a coalition of more than 20 national and international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) led by the New York-based Human Rights Watch is leading a campaign for Sri Lanka`s non-inclusion in the council.
Convenor of the Civil Monitoring Commission, Mano Ganesan told The Nation that the sudden indictment of Wing Commander Nishantha Gajanayake along with several others last week and the setting up of a hotline to report abductions after all this time were to `illustrate` the government`s so-called action to put and end to the gross human rights violations.
`But the indictment of Gajanayake does not mean everything is over my hunch is Gajanayake was just a pawn of someone powerful who continues to roam free even today,` Ganesan added.