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"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Sri Lanka Accused at United Nations > UN Sub Commission 1993

UN SUB COMMISSION ON PREVENTION
OF DISCRIMINATION AND PROTECTION OF MINORITIES
45TH SESSIONS: AUGUST 1993


Statement by Mr.Tilak Marapana, Leader of Delegation of Sri Lanka

Mr. Chairman,

As this is the first occasion that my delegation is taking the floor, allow me at the Outset to congratulate you and the other members of the bureau. We are all aware of the deep commitment that you and the other members of the Sub, Commission have shown in the field of human rights and in particular on the prevention of discrimination and the protection of minorities. It is this same commitment that impels Sri Lanka to cooperate with the organs of the Commission on Human Rights in their endeavour to fulfil the mandates given to them.

Due to time constraints, you will appreciate my inability to present to the Sub-Commission all developments that have taken place in Sri Lanka since the 44th Session of the Sub-Commission. For the benefit of members who have always shown a deep interest in Sri Lanka, my delegation has circulated a situation report providing detailed information regarding the current situation in the country. Hence, I shall use the limited time available to me today, to provide a brief description of important developments relevant to your mandate, since the last session of the Sub-Commission.

Firstly, I wish to reiterate our commitment towards an open dialogue. Sri Lanka continues its cooperative relationship with the U.N. and other international organs such as the UN14CP, and ICRC. Furthermore, its policy of co-operation with NGOs, such as Amnesty International, Asia Watch, Medicine Sans Frontiers, to name a few, continues.

The most recent NGO to visit the island was Article 19, in July this year. The representatives of Article 19 were not only provided with all assistance by the government, but also met with cabinet ministers and officials whom they wished to meet. Similarly, our co-operative relationship with the Sri Lankan NGOs continues uninterrupted. The government continues to pay heed to representations made by local NGOs -pertaining to matters such as arrest, detention and welfare of persons in custody, freedom of expression and other fundamental rights.

Being a democracy, we are fully aware of our responsibility to our own people. This has been discharged through a series of policy decisions taken by the government in the recent months to correct what has to be corrected and improve what needs to be improved. The provincial elections held in May this year, are yet another example of accountability to our people and the firm commitment to democracy. Our presence here today demonstrates an extension of this accountability in terms of our international obligations.

To ensure that violators of human rights will be held responsible for their acts, investigations are conducted and legal proceedings instituted. For example, in respect of the incident at Maillantenna in the 'Eastern Province, non-summary proceedings have been instituted against 23 soldiers on charges of murder and attempted murder. A request has been made to the Chief Justice for a Magistrate to be specially gazetted to hear this case. This is for the purpose of expediting the hearing.

Secondly, I wish to refer briefly to certain steps taken by the government since the 49th Session of the Commission on Human Rights to improve the human rights situation in the country, The Emergency Regulations which were in operation since 1989 have been revised in June this year. This revision was into account the improved security situation in the country, except in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

The representations made by non-governmental organisations and following upon the recommendations of the, Human Rights Centre of the University of Colombo. In this process, fewer acts have been made punishable under the Emergency Regulations, and even these have been confined to acts relevant in the present security context. The powers of arrest and detention have been limited to acts which are necessarily a threat to national security. Changes have also been introduced in relation to arrest and search, detention pending investigations, rehabilitation, surrendees and essential services, to name a few.

Steps are also underway to examine all other regulations promulgated under the Public Security Ordinance with a view to revoking those which are unnecessary and to identify those that are not strictly relevant in the public security context which could be enacted as laws through the normal legislative process. On completion of this task the revised Emergency Regulations will be published as a consolidated document and made freely available.

The government is also taking steps to accede to the Convention against Torture, during the course of this year.

In regard to disappearances, I wish to mention that even the allegations of disappearances have reduced during the first six months of the year. During this period there was only one allegation of a disappearance in the South and 18 in the conflict areas in the East. These alleged disappearances are currently under investigation by the authorities. Regrettably, due to the prevailing situation in the Eastern Province proper investigations are hampered. Of these 18 cases, one person has already been traced.

Taking into account, the representations made by the next of kin and NGOS, the government has decided to issue a warrant with modified terms of reference with a view to expediting the work of the Presidential Commission on involuntary Removals.

The members of the Sub-Commission will recall that at the invitation of the government, the Working Group on Disappearances and Amnesty International returned to Sri Lanka in October 1992. Sri Lanka gave an undertaking to study the additional recommendations of the Working Group and Amnesty International.

My delegation is pleased to announce that the government has already initiated measures to implement most of these recommendations. My delegation also wishes to inform that steps are underway to introduce constitutional reforms which will inter alia strengthen the existing constitutional guarantees regarding fundamental rights.

It has been decided to appoint a Parliamentary Select Committee consisting of all parties represented in Parliament to make recommendations in this regard. The election laws are also to be examined with a view to making the franchise more meaningful.

My third point relates to the present situation in Sri Lanka. The members of the Sub-Commission are undoubtedly aware of the brutal assassination of President Ranasinghe Premadasa on I May, 1993, through a terrorist act. While investigations are continuing, all evidence gathered so far point to the involvement of the LTTE, in this dastardly act. This criminal act and other atrocities committed by the LTTE indicate how LTTE, inspired terrorism continues to stalk the island with total destabilisation of the country and destruction of the democratic institutions as its target.

Undoubtedly, these acts were carried out with the intention of provoking a communal disturbance detrimental to the security of the Tamils, now living peacefully in the South. However, the events that followed the assassination proved that the people of Sri Lanka have the maturity and courage to withstand the gruesome acts calculated. to arouse emotions, The government also took all necessary steps to ensure maintenance of law and order and to avoid reprisals, The speed in which Sri Lanka recovered from these events and the manner in which political power was peacefully transferred to the new President His Excellency D.B. Wijetunga confirms this positive development.

Another positive development was the provincial elections that took place soon after the assassination These elections conducted island-wide, except in terrorist affected areas, and witnessed by independent international observers, confirmed the healthy sign that despite the challenges, democracy continues to thrive in the island

Encouraged by the repeated reaffirmation by the Security Council and other UN bodies that the practice of ethnic cleansing is unlawful and unacceptable and that the partitioning of independent sovereign states on ethnic and religious ground, is also unacceptable, I wish to address the Sub. Commission on the realities of the activities of the LTTE in the guise of a separatist war.

Senseless and frequent slaughter of innocent civilians both from the Sinhalese and the Muslim communities, the rejection of the mediatory efforts of the UNHCR to open a safe passage for civilians and the transport of essential requirements for the people of the Jaffna Peninsula, refusing the ICRC access to over 4000 Tamils in illegal detention by the LTTE in the infamous "LTTE Gulag', rejecting the government's efforts initiated through ICRC to release those in illegal custody and the refusal of the LTTE to take part in negotiations to settle the legitimate grievances of the Tamils, demonstrate the true character of the LTTE and its scant respect for all norms of humanitarian law.

The necessity to repress the Tamil parties and groups by the LTTE, underscores the conclusions that the LTTE is not the sole voice of the Tamil people and that the LTTE will not tolerate democracy. It is quite apparent that the LTTE is seeking to harness international support for the establishment of a one party mono-ethnic separate state.

Mindful of the unacceptability of such a development, it is the view of the government of Sri Lanka that international isolation and rejection of the LTTE would certainly force the LTTE to reassess its position. It should not be forgotten that the mediatory efforts of the government of India too were brutally rejected by the LTTE, as opposed to the intransigence on the part of the LTTE, the government has consistently engaged in a dialogue with moderate and democratic Tamil political parties with a view to negotiating a solution acceptable to all parties concerned. The government continues to hope that the LTTE too would see the merits of a negotiated political settlement

The freedom of the media, both print and electronic, also has witnessed significant improvements in the recent months. The tabloids which publish issues of interest to society and even those critical of the government are flourishing. Meanwhile the main stream media carry editorials which are only tolerated in open societies. In June, President His Excellency D.B. Wijetunga suggested guidelines to the radio, TV and the press that they should not be mere mouthpieces of the government. Meanwhile the government has recently authorised the establishment of a third private T-V channel thus increasing the total number to five.

Together with these positive developments rehabilitation and release of those in detention for alleged subversive activities continue. These steps have brought the number of detainees which stood at 4153 at the end of 1992 to 2095 by the end of July this year. In 1993, seven hundred and eighty one detainees have been released after providing them with vocational and other training to enable them to reintegrate into society and become productive. The gradual return of the country to normalcy is reflected by the return of approximately 35,000 Sri Lankan refugees from India and the arrangements that are currently underway to repatriate those who had failed in their quest to secure asylum in Switzerland.

My final point refers to the steps taken by the 'government in regard to the political resolution of the problems involving the Northern and Eastern Provinces. A Select Committee of Parliament composed of representatives of all political parties in Parliament has been working to reach agreement on a just and lasting solution to the ethnic question which would satisfy the legitimate aspirations of all communities inhabiting the country.

The government has stated that it will implement the recommendations of the Select Committee. One of the proposals under intensive discussion is that of a referendum in the Eastern Province which would determine through the expression of the will of the people, whether the Eastern Province should continue to be joined to the Northern Province or have a Provincial Council of its own.

Ground conditions in the Eastern Province at present indicate that a referendum as required by law could be held in the course of this year. Such a referendum would be subject to monitoring by international observers. The vexed problem of the unit to which devolved powers should be given in terms of the provisions already enshrined in the Constitution would then be finally determined by the will of the people. Thank you Mr. Chairman.


Response of the International Secretariat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

It is a matter for regret, though, perhaps, not a matter for surprise, that the leader of the Sri Lanka Delegation to the Sub Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, in his statement on 11 August, failed to address the underlying causes of the continuing conflict in the island, and failed to recognise that the armed struggle of the Tamil people for self determination, arose as a response to decades of gross and systematic violations of their human rights under successive Sinhala dominated governments, within the confines of an unitary Sri Lankan state.

The International Secretariat of the Liberation Tigers believes that the peaceful and constructive resolution of the conflict in the island will not be furthered by the Sri Lanka representative categorising the lawful armed resistance of the Tamil people, which arose from decades of oppressive rule by an alien Sinhala majority, as 'terrorist' activity.

We note the statement of the leader of the Sri Lanka Delegation, Mr. Tilak Marapane, that his government is of the view that international isolation and rejection of the LTTE would certainly force the LTTE to reassess its position'.

It appears that the Sri Lanka Government, concerned with the increasing support that the Tamil struggle for self determination has received in the international arena, and agitated with its failure to crush Tamil resistance on the ground, seeks to enlist the assistance of the delegates to the UN Sub Commission to further its unjust war against the Tamil people. And to this end, the leader of the Sri Lanka delegation has not hesitated to be economical with the truth.

Mr. Marapana states:

What Mr.Marapane does not say is that his government has for the past three years and more used the Parliamentary Select Committee mechanism as a way of avoiding direct talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The Select Committee has deliberated for more than three years and the government is content to allow this farce to continue, in the full knowledge that a Select Committee consisting of Sinhala political parties who are at each others throats and who are intent on positioning themselves to capture power at the next elections will do nothing to resolve the conflict.

The Select Committee mechanism provides the Sri Lanka government with a useful cover of 'reasonableness' for international consumption, whilst it continues its genocidal military operations against the Tamil people.

Again the blatant untruths uttered by the Representative for Sri Lanka concerning the negotiations for the removal of the economic blockade imposed by his government on the Jaffna Peninsula and the opening of a safe passage for civilians shows the extent to which the Sri Lanka government is prepared to go in its efforts to crush the Tamil struggle for self determination.

Mr. Marapane alleges that the LTTE rejected the mediatory efforts of the UNHCR to open safe passage for civilians to travel to the Jaffna Peninsula. This allegation is wholly false. On the contrary, the LTTE welcomed the initiative taken by UNHCR to get the route along Poonakari opened for the movement of civilians. In fact, the LTTE suggested that civilians pass through the route under the supervision of UNHCR. However, given that the Sri Lankan army operated a checkpoint at Vavuniya for civilians travelling to the North, the LTTE objected to the Sri Lankan Army operating another check point at Poonakari, which was well within Tamil territory.

Mr. Marapane also alleges that the LTTE rejected the mediatory efforts of the UNRCR for the 'transport of essential requirements for the people' in the North. This allegation too is wholly false.

Mr. Marapane fails to disclose that the negotiations between Sri Lanka and the LTTE, for the transport of essential requirements, took place in connection with the request for the release of 39 Sinhala prisoners of war held by the LTTE. The facts are as follows:

In June this year, in consequence of a fast undertaken by the Sinhala prisoners of war held by the LT-TE Sri Lanka's Brigadier Weerasekera came to Jaffna. The LTTE requested Brigadier Weerasekera to give a list of the Tamil prisoners of war held by the Government of Sri Lanka. The LTTE told him that it would exchange 39 Sinhala prisoners of war for 39 Tamil prisoners of war. But Brigadier Weerasekera said that the Government was not willing to hand over a list of prisoners because that was a defence secret!

Sinhala prisoners of war are held by LTTE in accordance with international humanitarian law. They are presented to the ICRC. The ICRC makes monthly checks on the food and medical services provided to them. But the whereabouts of the Tamil prisoners of war are not known. The ICRC does not visit the Tamils held by the Government as prisoners of war. Exchange of prisoners of war is an international norm. But the Sri Lanka Government refused to recognise this.

It was faced with this refusal, that the LTTE made an alternative suggestion. It requested Sri Lanka to lift the economic blockade to the Peninsula in return for the release of the prisoners. After some negotiations, it was agreed with Brigadier Weerasekera that as a first step, the ban would be lifted on some of the items, and that these items would be sent to Jaffna peninsula, as a condition for the release of prisoners. However, the Sri Lanka Government later resiled from this agreement.

The falsity of the allegations made by Sri Lanka to the UN Sub Commission serve to expose the Government's true intent.

The Sri Lanka government is engaged in a war for land in the Tamil homeland. In the East, whole villages have been emptied and driven out by the army from their homes and occupations and turned into refugees. At the same time Sri Lanka has increased the pace of settling armed Sinhala people in former Tamil areas. It is clear that the Government's objective is to make the Tamils in the cast a minority in their own homeland.

The statement of Mr.Marapane to the Sub Commission that 'ground conditions in the Eastern Province indicate that a referendum could be held in the course of this year' to determine the will of the people whether the Eastern Province should be continued to be joined to the Northern Province' serves only to confirm that objective.

Mr. Marapane states:

However, Mr. Marapane chooses to ignore the fact that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have, for several years, consistently declared their willingness to enter into talks with the Sri Lanka Government

He also chooses to ignore the fact that the Sri Lankan government has not seriously responded to the many proposals for cease-fire and peace talks, even when presented by other concerned governments; that it rejected the Canadian Human Rights Mission, composed of members of Parliament, religious leaders, a lawyer and a journalist as a mediating body; and that this was followed by a failure to respond to an offer by the government of Australia to mediate.

The leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Velupillai Pirabaharan, has declared that the LTTE was prepared to consider a federal structure with the NorthEast forming the Tamil homeland. But it is clear that the Government of Sri Lanka is bent on dividing the Tamil homeland in the NorthEast.

The Liberation Tigers have repeatedly made their position clear - if the Government of Sri Lanka persists in its determination to subjugate the Tamil people, the Tamils will have no alternative but to continue to fight to restore their own sovereign state.


Draft Resolution on the Situation in Sri Lanka

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities

Forty-fifth session

Agenda item 6

QUESTION OF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS INCLUDING POLICIES OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION AND SEGREGATION AND OF APARTHEID, IN ALL COUNTRIES, WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO COLONIAL AND OTHER DEPENDENT COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES; REPORT OF THE SUB-COMMISSION UNDER COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS RESOLUTION 8 (XXIII)

1993/ [ ] Situation in Sri Lanka

The Sub Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities,

Guided by the affirmation in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that it is essential that if man is not to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Bearing in mind the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which reaffirms the right of every people to self determination,

Noting the universally accepted rules of international humanitarian law,

Recalling its resolutions 1983/16 and 1984/34 concerning the situation in Sri Lanka,

Taking into account Commission on Human Rights decision 1984/111, resolution 1987/61 and statement of 27 February 1992,

Concerned about the yearly mention of the situation in the island of Sri Lanka in reports by the Commission's Special Rapporteur for Torture, the Working Group on Disappearances and the Special Rapporteur on Summary and Arbitrary Executions,

Disturbed by the continued armed conflict and by the continued violations of the international humanitarian law in the island of Sri Lanka,

Recognising that any meaningful effort to resolve the continuing armed conflict in the island should address its underlying causes,

Urges the Sri Lanka government to recognise that the armed resistance of the Tamil people, arose in response to decades of gross violations of the human rights of the Tamil people, by a permanent Sinhala majority, within the confines of an unitary Sri Lankan state,

Urges the Sri Lanka government to recognise that the deep divisions between it and the Tamil people cannot be resolved by the use of force against them and accordingly urges the Sri Lanka government to take early steps to enter into a cease-fire and lift the economic blockade imposed on the North and East of the island,

Recommends that the Secretary General consider invoking his good offices with the aim of contributing to the establishment of peace in the island of Sri Lanka through respect for the existence of the Tamil homeland in the North and East of the island and respect for the right of the Tamil people in the North and East of the island to freely choose their political status.


Draft Resolution suggested by Experts Group

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities

Forty-fifth session

Agenda item 6

UN Resolutions on Sri LankaQUESTION OF THE VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS INCLUDING POLICIES OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION AND SEGREGATION AND OF APARTHEID, IN ALL COUNTRIES, WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO COLONIAL AND OTHER DEPENDENT COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES; REPORT OF THE SUB-COMMISSION UNDER COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS RESOLUTION 8 (XXIII)

Mr. Bossuyt, Ms. Chavez, Mr. Eide, and Mr. Joinet:

Draft Resolution - 1993

The situation of human rights in Sri Lanka

The Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.

Recalling Commission on Human Rights resolution 1987/61 of 12 March 1987,

Recalling also the acknowledgement by the Chairman of the Commission at its forty-ninth session of the statement by the representative of Sri Lanka (E/1993/23-E/CN.4/1993/122, para. 564) and the statement by the Chairman of the Commission at its forty-eighth session made on behalf of the Commission (E/1992/22-E/CN.4/1992/84, para. 416),

Deeply disturbed by the continuation of ethnic violence in Sri Lanka,

Welcoming the readiness of the Government of Sri Lanka, exemplified by its statement to the Commission at its forty-ninth session, to uphold "the democratic principle of the Government's accountability to its people and Sri Lanka's international treaty obligations",

Welcoming the commitment by the Government of Sri Lanka, made to the Commission at its forty-ninth session, "to make a comprehensive review and revision of emergency legislation related to arrest and detention", "[to undertake] the compilation and publication of a consolidated version of all current emergency regulations to promote public awareness" and "to consider favourably Sri Lanka's accession to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment",

Taking note of the contents of the reports of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (E/CN.4/1993/25 and Add.1), the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture (E/CN.4/1993/26) and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (E/CN.4/1993/46),

1. Urges the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;

2. Calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to appoint appropriate independent judicial commissions or tribunals to investigate all cases of enforced or involuntary disappearances, summary or arbitrary executions and cases of torture that have already occurred;

3. Welcomes the willingness of the Government of Sri Lanka to continue its co-operation with the Commission, and the Sub-Commission and, in particular, to help clarify pending cases of enforced or involuntary disappearances noted in the reports of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, and to communicate to the Commission and the Sub-Commission new measures the Government of Sri Lanka may take in the field of human rights;

4. Condemns the use, by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, of summary or arbitrary executions of non-combatant civilians, the practice of torture, abductions, arbitrary detention of persons and the expulsion of thousands of Muslim civilians from the north of the country;

5. Calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka and all other parties to the armed conflict strictly to adhere to the obligations under common article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949;

6. Urges the Government of Sri Lanka and other parties to the conflict to seek a cessation of hostilities and to achieve an end to the conflict through negotiations among representatives of all ethnic groups, freely elected by them, and to obtain the assistance of the Secretary-General in any mediation that may become necessary;

7. Expresses the hope that the Government of Sri Lanka will afford the required opportunity to the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture to visit Sri Lanka and to undertake whatever study they deem appropriate;

8. Invites the Government of Sri Lanka to submit information to the Commission on Human Rights at its fiftieth session on the implementation of the present resolution.


Statement by Mr. Tilak Marapana, Leader of Sri Lanka Delegation

We are pleased to hear that the cosponsors have kindly decided to withdraw the draft resolution contained in document L--27. Whilst thanking them for this kind gesture, I would like make a brief statement.

Mr. Chairman, in the statement made by me at the 49th Session of the Commission on Human Rights on 11 March this year, I outlined the main elements of a Programme of Work which the Government of Sri Lanka had undertaken to carry out in the course of the year. This statement is contained in the summary record of the 49th Session.

I also stated that my Government, in keeping with its consistent policy, would continue to share with the members of the Commission, and other interested parties, information on the progress we make in this field.

As this session of the Sub Commission is the first occasion, thereafter on which an opportunity has arisen to address an organ of the Commission I wish to inform the members of this Sub Commission the progress we have made on the implementation of this programme of work.

(1). In regard to measures to ascertain the whereabouts of persons alleged to have disappeared, the government has prepared a revised Warrant to be issued for the Presidential Commission to inquire into Involuntary Removal of Persons. This revision is with a view to facilitate the Commission to expedite its work.

(2) The prosecution of those responsible for disappearances is also being carried out with vigour.

(3) In regard to the review and revision of the Emergency Regulations relating to arrest and detention, the government has already accomplished this and the revised version of these Emergency Regulations was promulgated on 17 June 1993.

(4) In regard to the compilation of a consolidated version of all current Emergency Regulations, a part of this programme was accomplished by the promulgation of the revised Emergency Regulations on 17 June 1993, steps are presently underway to identify Emergency Regulations yet in force which could be revoked as being redundant or unnecessary. The Regulations which are not strictly relevant in the context of public security but nonetheless considered necessary, are to be enacted as laws through the normal legislative procedures.

(5) In regard to the problems relating to the North and the East of the country, steps are already underway to hold elections to the local authorities in the Eastern Province and parts of the Northern Province where relative normalcy has been established in most areas. The government is also considering  the holding of the referendum required to be held by law to determine whether or not the Eastern Province and the Northern Province are to be joined as one administrative unit of a single Provincial Council. Upon conclusion of the elections to the local authorities, representatives of at least the Tamil speaking people of these areas could then negotiate a solution to the larger problems involving both the Northern and Eastern Provinces. It is hoped that the LTTE would even at this stage enter the democratic process and participate in the negotiations.

(6) In regard to the recommendations of the Working Group on Disappearances, arising from two visits to Sri Lanka, the government is in the process of implementing these recommendations. What is outlined above also constitutes measures taken in this regard.

(7) I am also pleased to inform the members that the government intends to accede to the Convention against Torture and Other Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Steps are underway to implement this decision.

Mr.Chairman, these are only a few of the measures that the government has taken to improve the human rights situation in Sri Lanka. I have referred to these matters, specifically for no other reason than because they relate to the programme of work outlined in my statement of 11 March 1993.

Members will appreciate the fact that the predicament of Sri Lanka is directly related to the situation of terrorism described in the resolution contained in document L-22 which was adopted by the Sub Commission today,

This predicament is not the result of so called "ethnic violence" referred to in the draft resolution but nothing more than the consequences of brutal terrorism engaged by a group of ruthless terrorists who seek to hold a people to ransom and destroy democratic fabric of our society.

Distinguished members will recall the shock waves which shuddered through Sri Lanka following upon the brutal assassination of the late President, H.E. R.Premadasa on 1 May 1993. With the smooth transition of power to the new President, His Excellency D.B.Wijetunga, he has made several pronouncements indicating in very clear terms his intention to defuse tension and create a climate for the better functioning of the democratic process.

He has already taken steps to liberalise the media, to examine constitutional amendments with a view to furthering democracy and to examine election law to make franchise more meaningful. It is only too well known that the steps taken by him have been applauded by a vast cross section of the population of Sri Lanka. The new President has been in office for barely 100 days. Under his leadership, several other measures are to be followed with a view to the further promotion of human rights.

In keeping with our policy of transparency, I will be informing the Commission at its 50th Sessions in 1994 of the outcome of these endeavours.

Thank you Mr.Chairman

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