Sri Lanka would oppose the proposed UN resolution for accountability that would also include responsibility for economic crimes, Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said on Wednesday, emphasising that "external forces" should not guide it on how to manage the country's economy.
A new draft resolution, which is to be put to vote on October 7 at the Human Rights Council (UNHRC), is to additionally call for accountability on the island nation’s ongoing economic crisis, the worst since its independence in 1948.
"We will not allow external forces to tell us how to manage our economy, we have taken our own measures for economic recovery,” Sabry told reporters through a video link from Geneva where he is attending the 51st session of the UNHRC.
The resolution’s initial draft read “to enhance its monitoring and reporting on the situation of human rights in Sri Lanka, including on progress in reconciliation and accountability, and on the human rights impact of the economic crisis and corruption.
It also talks to present oral updates to the Human Rights Council at its 53rd sessions (June-July 2023) and 55th sessions (February-March 2025), and a written update at its 54th sessions (September-October 2024) followed with a comprehensive report that includes further options for advancing accountability at its 57th session (September-October 2025).
Sabry said the UNHRC lacked expertise to determine economic affairs.
Asked if Sri Lanka was tolerant of international mediation on resolving the economic crisis while opposing international mechanisms on human rights protection, Sabry said the island was having friendly cooperation on its economic recovery when the countries, mostly the West, tended to interfere in the human rights front.
He said the core group of countries led by the US, UK and others are being heavily lobbied by the Tamil diaspora domiciled there to move against Sri Lanka.
“We have to defend our sovereignty as it is clear that these groups want to perpetuate these accusations to undermine us,” Sabry said.
He reiterated Sri Lanka’s position that international mechanisms to try service personnel was an impingement of the Sri Lankan Constitution.
“Our war heroes must be protected, they can’t be allowed to be tried by external forces,” he said.
Sabry insisted that Sri Lanka had taken measures to address the accountability issues with certain local mechanisms set up already such as the office of missing persons, office of reparations and action initiated to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
“We have released 94 per cent of the private properties (held for military purposes during the war with LTTE),” Sabry said.
He said the truth seeking mechanism which is to be set up soon would enable anyone to complain against the troops for any wrong doings.
He said Sri Lanka defeating the resolution was remote as some of the countries who had previously been members of the UNHRC to support Sri Lanka were no longer members.
“The number in our favour would be significantly less, this is the reality,” Sabry said in the vote adding that “powerful countries lobbying against us doesn’t reflect the will of the people”
The UN rights body since 2013 has adopted resolutions calling for rights accountability for war crimes blamed both on the government troops and the LTTE group that ran a violent campaign to create a separate state for the Tamil minority in the north and east regions.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the now ousted former president, at that time ruthlessly ended Sri Lanka's nearly 30-year civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) with the death of its supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran in 2009.
The former defence secretary, who stands accused of violating human rights, vehemently denies the charge.
Then-president Mahinda Rajapaksa, the elder brother of Gotabaya, on May 18, 2009 declared the end of the 26-year war in which over 1,00,000 people were killed and millions of Sri Lankans, mainly minority Tamils, displaced as refugees inside the country and abroad.
(With PTI inputs)