Mar 29, 2017

Mahinda risked facing int’l travel ban - Mangala Featured

Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa risked facing an international travel ban had not for the regime change in 2015, said foreign affairs minister Mangala Samaraweera.

Speaking to journalists at his ministry yesterday (28), Samaraweera said it was president Maithripala Sirisena and prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who had saved Rajapaksa from foreign pressure.

Sri Lanka, sidelined internationally before 08 January 2015, is now a key player in world diplomacy due to efforts of the present administration, he said, citing the support given by 47 countries at the UNHRC as well as the president’s successful tour of Russia as examples.

International recognition

The country now has powerful friends who helped her to save the Sri Lankan ship crew from Somali pirates and to save a Sri Lankan woman sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia, according to him.

Samaraweera charged that more than Rs. 63 million of public money was wasted by the Sri Lankan delegation to the UNHRC sessions in March 2014, comparing it to the Rs. 5.5 million expense the country’s representation cost last week there.

He also said only 47 persons comprised the recent presidential team to Russia, whereas Mahinda Rajapaksa took with him 88 persons in a separate plane to Russia on an unofficial visit in 2010.

Samaraweera ridiculed the allegations being leveled against his ministry by those who had abused it in the past.

He reiterated that a home-grown human rights mechanism tabled to the UNHRC did not include hybrid courts or foreign judges.

Human rights allegations would be investigated under a local, independent judicial process with international participation, without causing any injustice to the armed forces, who are internationally-recognized and well disciplined, he added.

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