The high level official who has come under fire by the UN High Commissioner is the President’s representative sent to Geneva, the Northern Governor.
In a strongly worded statement the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said that a newspaper article quoting a senior Sri Lankan official “seriously misrepresents” her discussion of the recent UN Human Rights Office report on Sri Lanka with a Sri Lanka Government delegation attending the Human Rights Council, (UNHRC) in Geneva on March 20.
Lankan media reports heavily criticised:
The local media reportage of the UNHRC sessions on Sri Lanka was also criticised by the UN High Commissioner.
The Northern Governor had said that they had pointed out certain factual errors in the UN High Commissioner’s report and had advised her on how to prepare a correct report.
The Northern Governor had said during a media briefing that the High Commissioner “admitted that certain facts incorporated in the UNHRC report against Sri Lanka could not be condoned whatsoever.” He also claimed Bachelet had advised two of her senior officials who attended the meeting “to be more responsible and cautious hereafter.”
Tamil Diaspora contribution:
He had alleged that the Tamil Diaspora contribution had been received while preparing the UN High Commissioner’s report.
The media had highlighted these statements.
The High Commissioner had focussed her attention on the Daily Mirror report.
"Neither of these claims are true,” Bachelet said. “Either the newspaper misunderstood the Governor, or the Governor misunderstood – or misquoted – me.” The high commissioner said she stands fully behind the report and the oral statement she made when presenting it to the Human Rights Council, and that she believes it fairly and objectively reflects the situation in Sri Lanka.
Marapana in the same boat!
Returning from Geneva after leading the delegation to the UNHRC, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministers account also suggested that the high commissioner was told that her report contained inaccurate information.
"... the Sri Lanka delegation emphasized the importance in compiling these reports by engaging closely with the relevant local institutions and independent bodies, including the National Human Rights Commission, in verifying facts on the ground," said Minister Tilak Marapana in a statement.
However, the UN High Commissioner had expressed disgruntlement over the statements by the Sri Lankan delegation upon arriving home from Geneva and also the newspaper reports published in this regard.
“I am deeply disappointed by the spin that has been put on my discussion with the Sri Lankan Government delegation,” Bachelet said, noting that news outlets in Sri Lanka were also continuing to significantly misrepresent the Human Rights Council process in Geneva.
“The government’s views were taken into account when finalizing the report, and a delegation of senior UN human rights officials discussed its contents with a wide range of Government officials during a visit to Sri Lanka in February,” said the statement from Geneva.
She said that based on the usual procedure of the 47 member country UNHRC, a copy of the report was given to the government prior to it being published. The UN High Commissioner also noted that the Sri Lankan government’s views were also considered in preparing the report, while the high level UNHRC representatives who visited Sri Lanka in February had also discussed its contents with many local officials.