ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 49

After Britain, EU also to rap Lanka on HR

By Our Diplomatic Editor

The Development Committee of European Parliament is to now discuss the human rights situation in Sri Lanka -- a move that may end in a resolution or strong condemnation of the Government.

The move comes in the wake of last week's discussion of the Sri Lanka situation by Britain's House of Commons. There both the ruling Labour Party and Opposition Conservative Party politicians heaped criticism on the Government over human rights abuses. They also referred to kidnappings, abductions and the break down of law and order situation in Sri Lanka.

The occasion for the discussion on Sri Lanka is a meeting the EU Development Committee has summoned for June 5, this year, mainly to evaluate Post-Tsunami Relief and Reconstruction efforts both in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, two of the most affected countries.

There are serious concerns at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombo over the EU move since the Sri Lanka mission in Brussels, where the meeting is to be held, is not geared to cope with the issue. The head of the mission and his number two are from the Department of Commerce focusing on their main priority of promoting trade and investment. The Ambasador, moreover, is said to be now "indisposed" and his second in command has not been able to cope with the issues involved.

This development comes amidst concerns from career diplomatic officers that work in Sri Lanka missions overseas was being hampered for many reasons. In Malaysia, for example, a head of mission has not been named after the High Commissioner designate, Mohamed Ansar, was asked not to proceed. The post remains vacant for the past six months.

Sri Lanka's Ambassador in Poland is expected relinquish office in two months and a replacement has not yet been named. That means many months more before a designate goes through all formalities and takes up post.

The Consulate in Toronto, where a very large number of Tamil expatriates are located and LTTE activity is said to be very high, a Foreign Ministry official nominated has been halted from going. Already three stations -- Bangkok, Tel Aviv and Jakarta -- are vacant with the heads of missions leaving their positions. They were all recalled from their posts.

Though successors have been named, no dates for their assumption of duties have been fixed yet. Even the Consul General's post in Sydney, Australia has remained vacant for a longer period of time.

Ambassadors of two states to which President Mahinda Rajapaksa completed official visits, Italy and the Vatican, have been told to return after completion of their terms. However, no successors have so far been nominated.

The sum effect of delayed postings, diplomatic sources say, is the Foreign Ministry being forced to keep the official residences of Heads of Missions open. This is at a considerable cost. In that period more damage to the country's image is caused by the lack of any Ambassadors or High Commissioners to give directions to the missions on their day-to-day work.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.