OPCW CSP 21 -Sri Lanka calls for measures to address the menace of chemical terrorism
|30 Nov 2016|
Sri Lanka has called for ways and means to address the menace of chemical terrorism, in the wake of Non-State Actors acquiring the capability to manufacture and use chemical weapons.
Participating in the General Debate on the second day of the 21st Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention in The Hague yesterday, the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to The Netherlands and Permanent Representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), A.M.J. Sadiq referred to the recent spate of horrendous terrorist attacks and the rise of Non-State Actors. In this context, he commended the work done by the Open Ended Working Group on Terrorism under the leadership of H.E. Dr Tony Aidoo, Ambassador of Ghana and at the Sub-Working Group on Non-State Actors, chaired by H.E. Maria Teresa Infante, Ambassador of Chile, as being important to explore and strengthen national capacities of Member States.
Ambassador Sadiq highlighted the urgent need for States to enhance their readiness and ability to meet such threats, and welcomed the establishment of the Rapid Response Assistance Team (RRAT) as a timely initiative, to enhance the capacity and the readiness of the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW to provide swift responses and assistance to States Parties, upon request, against the use of chemical weapons. He urged the OPCW not to limit the scope of the RRAT only to chemical weapons related incidents, but extend it to cover chemical accidents, as well.
The Sri Lankan Ambassador underscored the crucial need for international cooperation and assistance in the areas of verification, capacity building and assistance & protection for the peaceful applications of Chemistry and to strengthen the national capacities in chemical emergency responses.
In this regard, he announced that Sri Lanka is pleased to host the Fifth Regional Basic Training Course on Emergency Response to Chemical Incidents for States Parties in Asia, organized by the National Authority of Sri Lanka with the assistance of the Technical Secretariat from 06th to 10th February 2017, in Colombo. The objective of the Programme is to provide participants adequate training on civil defence, civil protection, and decontamination operations in contaminated areas and counter- measures in the event of incidents involving chemical warfare agents or toxic industrial chemicals.
Highlighting the role of the private sector in Sri Lanka in collaborating with the OPCW, Ambassador Sadiq stated that Camso Loadstar (Pvt) Ltd hosted the industrial attachment of two participants from Tunisia and Paraguay in September this year, as a part of the OPCW Associate Programme 2016.
Speaking further, Ambassador Sadiq welcomed the successful removal of precursor chemicals from Libya, on 27 August 2016, as part of an ongoing operation undertaken in close collaboration with the Libyan National Authority, to verifiably eliminate remaining chemical weapons stocks and thanked the Technical Secretariat and all other associated States Parties and organizations for this significant achievement.
Referring to Syria, Ambassador Sadiq stated that, “Sri Lanka attaches high importance to the Convention on the prohibition of development, production, stockpiling and the use of chemical weapons and on their destruction. In this context, Sri Lanka values the work of the OPCW. The use of chemical weapons anywhere, irrespective of circumstances, cannot be justified. The OPCW and the UN Joint Investigative Mechanism Report highlights the use of chemical weapons in Syria, which is of grave concern and we would like to emphasize the urgent need for decisive action in this regard.”
Miss Wathsala Amarasinghe, Second Secretary of the Embassy was associated with Ambassador Sadiq, as a member of the Sri Lanka delegation at the Conference.
The full text of the Country Statement is attached.
Embassy of Sri Lanka
The Hague, The Netherlands
30th November 2016
Remarks by Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva at Regional Consultations on Transitional Justice in Asia-Pacific
|15 Nov 2016|
Remarks by Hon. Dr. Harsha de Silva. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Regional Consultations on Transitional Justice in Asia-Pacific,
Hilton Colombo, 9 November 2016
UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Mr. Pablo de Greiff,
It is a pleasure to be here with you this morning, and I extend to all of you, a very warm welcome to Sri Lanka.
I understand that this meeting brings together State representatives, representatives of transitional justice mechanisms, national human rights institutions, NGOs, victims groups, UN officials, and representatives of regional organisations from the Asia-Pacific region to discuss and share experiences on transitional justice processes in the region.
I was informed that in accordance with the mandate given by the Human Rights Council to the Special Rapporteur, he was requested by the Council to gather relevant information on national situations, including on normative frameworks, national practices and experiences; identify, exchange and promote good practices and lessons learned; and recommend ways and means to improve and strengthen the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence.
Accordingly, regional consultations have so far been held for the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe and North America. The region of the Asia-Pacific is the last on the list.
I feel that we are fortunate that by accident or by design, the consultations for the Asia-Pacific was kept to be done last, giving us this wonderful opportunity to welcome not only Mr. Pablo de Greiff, but all of you, to Sri Lanka.
As you all know, since the election of President Maithripala Sirisena in a historical Presidential election in last year Sri Lanka has embarked on a process of reconciliation. The two main political parties in Sri Lanka – the Sri Lanka Freedom Party led by President Sirisena and the United National Party led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have come together to forge a Government of National Unity. This is a step that is unprecedented in our nation’s history. In the words of President Sirisena in his inaugural address to Parliament following the General Election last August, this was a necessary step to obtain the bipartisan consensus that is required to face the important challenges before our nation, which include reconciliation and peacebuilding.
Therefore, Ladies and Genetlemen, this is an important moment in our history. We have acknowledged and recognised the need for reconciliation and the important contribution that transitional justice can make to this process of healing. Sri Lanka’s co-sponsorship of Resolution 30/1 titled ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’ is a manifestation of our strong commitment to this process.
Several initial steps in this long journey that we have embarked upon have been taken already. This includes the setting up, through an Act of Parliament, an Office on Missing Persons which is a component of the truth-seeking process. The legislation for this was enacted in August and the procedural steps for its establishment including the nomination of members by the Constitutional Council are now underway. A Task Force was appointed early this year, by the Government, comprising members of civil society, to hold public consultations, involving all stakeholders, to seek their views on the mechanisms for truth-seeking, justice and reparations.
This important process of national consultations has just concluded and the Task Force is scheduled to hand over their report to the President and the Prime Minister, this month. The designing of the truth-seeking, justice and reparations mechanisms will be informed by the report of this Task Force.
At the same time, we have undertaken a process of constitutional reform. A Resolution for the Parliament to sit as a Constitutional Assembly for this purpose was passed unanimously by our Parliament. The various drafting committees are presently at work.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The processes that are underway here are in fact too numerous to list out and what I listed out are just a few.
For this process in Sri Lanka to be successful, we have to also ensure that the people of our country receive a quick economic peace dividend, and this is also an area on which we are focusing significant attention at the moment.
As contexts differ and there are no cookie-cutter models that can be adopted in sensitive processes such as transitional justice, this is a journey that our nation has to undertake and chart on its own. Yet, we cannot afford to experiment or make mistakes. Therefore, we rely on technical expertise as well as advice, and Pablo and the OHCHR officers have been excellent partners to us in our journey.
We have a long way to go and I am sure we have a lot to learn from best practices elsewhere. This is probably true for a lot of you here as well. Reconciliation is not a box that can be ticked or a journey that can end as per a timeline. There are no magic potions to achieve what we set out to achieve. It requires hard work and constant striving, and a commitment towards which our nation should be bound across generations. National building and healing are not tasks that have an end. This, we understand; and we want to ensure that after so many years of conflict, our nation does not plunge into conflict once again. So with this aim in mind, we set out on pursuing transitional justice to build a nation which respects and upholds the rights of each and every individual citizen of our country.
I wish your deliberations all success, and I hope that while you are here, you would also find the time to enjoy Colombo and Sri Lanka.
Remarks by Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera at Launch of Civil Society Network Joint Alternative Report to the Committee Against Torture
|19 Oct 2016|
Remarks by Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs
at Launch of Civil Society Network Joint Alternative Report
to the Committee Against Torture
Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute (LKIIRS), 13 October 2016
අශෝක් ස්ටීවන් පූජකතුමනි, රයිට් ටු ලයිෆ් සංවිධානයේ ෆිලිප් දිසානායක මහතා ප්රමුඛ මූලාසනයේ සිටින මහත්ම මහත්මයාණෙනි, ඒ වගේම බ්රිටෝ ප්රනාන්දු මැතිතුමනි, සම්භාවනීය අමුත්තනි, මිත්රවරුනි,
අද රාජ්ය නොවන සංවිධාන එක්මුතව විසින් සංවිධානය කරන ලද මෙම ඉතාමත්ම කාලෝචිත වැදගත් සම්මන්ත්රනයට මටත් ආරාධනා කිරීම ගැනත්, වචන කීපයක් කථා කරන්න ලැබීම ගැනත් මම ඉතාමත්ම සතුටු වෙනවා.
කොසේ වෙතත් මං හිතන්නනේ මේ ස්ථානයේ විවිධ භාෂා කථා කරන විවිධ අය සිටින නිසා මගේ කථාව ඉංග්රීසියෙන් කරන්නට මම ඔබතුමන්ලාගේන් මේ අවස්ථාවේ දී ඉල්ලා සිටිනවා.
First of all, I would like to thank the Right to Life Human Rights Centre for inviting me to join you at this important event this afternoon.
The work that you have done, collectively, bringing together a network of I believe more than 20 civil society organisations and activists against torture, which is a subject, which is still being talked about unfortunately after all these years its indeed remarkable. On behalf of my Ministry, and on behalf of the Government, I express my appreciation to you for the dedication and commitment with which you have carried out this work in producing this alternative report which was just handed over to me and I look forward to study some of the recommendations and I even look forward even more to implementing some of these recommendations as early as possible, As you know in fact, when I came Sudarshana was talking about the recent past.
When we campaigned for the Presidential Election in 2015, we did so with your support. In fact, I would say some of the Key Architects of that change, the unexpected change for most people but we were expecting it for quite some time. Many of the Key architects of that change are here today. What we achieved, we could not have achieved without your dedication, without your commitment and without your sense of sacrifice and your willingness to take risks. You made sacrifices because of your belief, because of your commitment to do what is right not just for the present, not merely for political expediency but for the sake of future generations.
This Report that you launch today is a manifestation of that same sense of commitment to make our country better for everyone; to uphold the fact that every person has individual inherent dignity and the right to have that dignity respected and protected.
In fact your work empowers us, especially when we’re in government and your work helps us in Government to take the steps that are required to make the necessary administrative and legal reform, and focus on the necessary technical, capacity building and training requirements to eliminate this crime of torture; take action where the crime is committed; and provide assistance in recovery, and redress of victims.
As we all agree Torture is a crime. Torture is a terrible crime. It is prohibited under all circumstances without exception. This is true in customary law, under the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and other relevant Conventions. Yet, we do know that torture is practiced daily not only by State actors but by non-State entities as well, in several forms. Torture raises its ugly head in different manifestations in different parts of the country even today. Torture has no place in civilized society, and torture cannot be justified in any situation, or under any circumstances – whether it is national security, fight against terrorism, threat of armed conflict, or in a public emergency.
As a Government that stands for good governance; rule of law; upholding and promoting and protecting human rights – we are committed to eliminate torture and take action where required. And this includes the need to create far greater awareness than that which exists today at all levels of society, beginning from the school curricular. The Government is committed to zero tolerance for all forms of torture, and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Yet, this is not a battle that Government as was again mention earlier. can fight alone. We need your help. We value, in this context, the alternative report. However, we need your help to work at all levels of society to formulate clear strategies to ensure that in the long run, we create a humane society that does not tolerate or condone torture, and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under any situation or circumstance.
In fact, I would like to thank the National Human Rights Commission for organizing a very visible event that included a walk to mark the international day in support of Victims of Torture earlier this year, in which the President himself participated. The President’s participation indicated commitment at the highest level of Government. However, we need your sustained and continuous support to carry out an island-wide awareness campaign which includes institutionalizing zero-tolerance for all forms of torture, so that torture is shunned by society at all levels and in fact we had a meeting again earlier this year not only with Human Right Commission but also with the Police Commission for them to come up with a plan so that may be even to create offices in every district so that people have a forum a place to go to If they have being subjected to torture of any kind and I hope some of these ideas will take fusion in the not so distant future. We should be futuristic in our vision of eliminating torture and denouncing torture from society, as an uncivilized practice, We have to get away from this arcane and primitive mindset that without torture that it is impossible to get a confession in fact at a meeting when I was speaking to some police officers one police officer looked genially confused when we said that torture as a form of extracting a confession must stop, I mean with almost in a state of innocence I would say for a better word he turns around and say “ , Sir හැබැයි මුන්ට දෙකක් අනින්නේ නැතුව කටඋත්තරයක් දෙන්නෙ නෑනෙ. I mean that is primitive mind set which we have to get over if we really fancy ourselves as a Civilized modern democracy.
Allegations of torture have, in the past, arisen in our country, in two specific contexts:
First, with respect to investigations into ordinary crimes which are prosecuted under Sri Lanka’s criminal law; and
Secondly, in the context of counter-terrorism and suppression of other aspects of organized crime.
We acknowledge the challenges involved in effectively investigating and successfully prosecuting offences, particularly grave offences such as terrorism and organized crime.
In this regard, it is important that investigative techniques should shift from the possible use of torture as a means of obtaining confessions, to the deployment and use of modern tools of investigation.
This would require first and foremost a change of mindset among law enforcement officers, in particular, investigators. Secondly, this would require capacity building and understanding of techniques which could secure outcomes that advance the course of justice without being intrusive. Thirdly, exposure to the world of new techniques in the integrated area of investigation and suppression of grave offences is also important. This would mean that the continuous upgrading of knowledge as well as skills for the police for the investigators is imperative.
During armed conflict, allegations often range from harms committed on suspects by armed forces and the police, to extra-judicial killings. However, the end of conflict and the ensuing time of peace are also characterized by concerns over practices by law enforcement authorities that have similar effects on the civilian population. Therefore, peace time practices which violate the dignity of human beings and their right to life are of equal concern. We are seized by these concerns and we do not, at any time, turn a blind eye. We are determined to deal with these issues.
In Sri Lanka’s context, especially after 2009, most allegations pertain to police practices, and it is important that these concerns are addressed as expeditiously as possible. This requires, amongst others, the introduction of legal safeguards including the right of a suspect to access a lawyer upon arrest.
The Government is firm in its commitment to eradicate torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and uphold relevant international legal standards. It is in manifestation of this commitment that the Government made a declaration under Article 22 of the Convention Against Torture in August this year, recognizing the competence of the UN Committee against Torture to receive individual complaints.
Once again, I reiterate Government’s commitment to eliminate torture and would like to conclude my remarks by seeking your sustained and continued support to address issues and concerns in this regard in a comprehensive manner with clear objectives, targets and timelines.
අවසාන වශයෙන් මම තව එක දෙයක් කියලා අවසන් කරනවා. ඊයේ කැබිනට් මණ්ඩලයේ දී අපි ත්රස්තවාදය වැලැක්වීමේ පනත වෙනුවට රජය ගෙන ඒමට බලාපොරොත්තුවන නව පනතේ සාකච්ඡාමය පිටපතක් කැබිනට් මණ්ඩලයට යොමු කරා. එම සාකච්ඡාමය පිටපතත් එක්කම විදේශ අමාත්යාංශය හැටියට අපි ඒ සඳහා යොමු කල සංශෝධනත් අපි ඉදරිපත් කරා. ඒ අනුව එම නව පනතත් එම සංශෝධනත්පාර්ලිමේන්තුවේ ඒ කාරක සභාවටත් ඒ වගේම තමුන්නාසේලාගේ සාකච්ඡාවටත් භාජනය කරන්න අපි තීන්දු කරලා තියෙනවා අන්න ඒ නිසා විශේෂයෙන්ම මෙතන රාජ්ය නොවන සංවිධාන විශේෂයෙන් මේ මේ ප්රශ්නය සම්බන්ධයෙන් දීර්ඝ කාලයක් කථා කරපු, සටන් කරපු නායකයන් ඉන්න නිසා මම තමුන්නාසේලාගෙනුත් ඉල්ලනවා මේ අපේ නව පනත සාර්ථක පනතක් බවට පත් කර ගන්නට we want a new act which will be in line with international base practices නව පනත ජාත්යන්තර වශයෙන් තියෙන හොඳම නීති රීති එකතු කරගත් පනතක් බවට පත් කර ගන්නට. අන්න ඒ නිසා තමුන්නාසේලාගේ අදහස් සංශෝධනත් ඉදිරියේදී මේ ආකාරයටම අපට ලබා දෙන්නැයි කියලා ඉල්ලා සිටිමින් යළි වතාවක් මෙම උත්සවයට මෙම වැදගත් සාකච්ඡාවට මටත් ආරාධනා කිරීම ගැන වචන කිහිපයක් කථා කිරීමට ලබා දීම ගැන මගේ ස්තුතිය පිරිනමමින් තමුන්නාන්සේලා සියලු දෙනාටම සුභපතමින් මගේ වචන ස්වල්පය අවසන් කරනවා.
A copy of the Joint Alternative Report from the Sri Lankan NGO Collective to the Committee Against Torture being handed over to the Foreign Minister by Philip Dissanayake, Executive Director of Right to Life Human Right Center
Invitation for Prequalification
|17 Oct 2016|
Ministry of Transport & Civil Aviation
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