Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry met the Colombo-based Ambassadors and High Commissioners on Monday 15 August, 2022 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a briefing on current developments ahead of the 51st session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam, Foreign Secretary Aruni Wijewardane and Finance Secretary Mahinda Siriwardana also contributed to the briefing.
Minister Sabry outlined the current developments in Sri Lanka, including the democratic transition of office in accordance with the Constitution. He outlined several areas of progress already visible in addressing some of the immediate challenges which has led to a greater degree of stability for the people. On the political front, the Minister briefed regarding the work underway towards forming an All-Party Government. He also recalled that the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution which effectively restores the 19th Amendment, has been gazetted and is before the Parliament. This measure will contribute towards strengthening parliamentary democracy, oversight of the executive branches of government and the independence of key institutions. He also explained the progress that has been initiated towards a comprehensive review of the PTA. The government is taking focused measures to mitigate the adverse impact of the current economic situation on the vulnerable sectors of the population in order to ensure the economic and social rights of the people and to prevent further disparities. The Minister also noted that despite the unprecedented situation in the country in recent years, including in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, advancements have been made in the area of human rights and reconciliation through domestic processes. The government is in the process of building consensus so that further progress can be made on matters related to human rights, justice and equity. The Foreign Minister emphasized that Sri Lanka will continue its constructive engagement with the Human Rights Council at the upcoming 51st session.
Finance Secretary Siriwardana made a presentation on the current economic situation, focusing on the social safety measures that the Government has adopted for vulnerable groups, with a view to mitigating adverse impacts. The Attorney General elaborated on the legal framework related to the Government’s response to the recent incidents related to protests and the imposing of the State of Emergency. Foreign Secretary Wijewardane highlighted Sri Lanka’s continuing and extensive engagement with several procedures and processes of the United Nations human rights framework.
During the discussion that followed the presentations, the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations Hanaa Singer-Hamdy expressed appreciation for the consistent efforts of the Government in facing the challenges and expanding the social safety net of vulnerable groups. She also acknowledged the review of the PTA. The UN Resident Coordinator announced that the UN will be partnering with the Government of Sri Lanka on a five-year framework of cooperation which will include areas of social and economic rights and social cohesion amongst others.