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India abstains during vote on resolution at UNHRC, urges Colombo to fulfill its commitments

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Geneva, Mar 23: India, which abstained during the vote on a strong resolution against Sri Lanka's human rights practices at the UNHRC, on Tuesday urged Colombo to fulfill its commitments on the devolution of political authority, to carry forward the process of reconciliation and address the aspirations of the Tamil community in the country.

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The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Tuesday adopted a resolution against Sri Lanka's rights record, in a setback to Colombo, which made determined efforts to garner international support ahead of the voting.

The resolution titled 'Promotion of Reconciliation Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka' was adopted by the UNHRC after 22 members out of 47 voted in favour of it. Eleven members voted against the resolution. India was among 14 countries which abstained from voting.

Ahead of the voting, India said that as an immediate neighbour, it has contributed to the relief, resettlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction process in Sri Lanka after 2009. India's approach to the question of human rights in Sri Lanka is guided by two fundamental considerations, Pawankumar Badhe, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of India in Geneva said in a statement.

"We have always believed that these two goals are mutually supportive and Sri Lanka's progress is best assured by simultaneously addressing both objectives," Badhe said. "India supports the call by the international community for the Government of Sri Lanka to fulfill its commitments on the devolution of political authority, including through the early holding of elections for Provincial Councils and to ensure that all Provincial Councils are able to operate effectively, in accordance with the 13th amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution," he said.

At the same time, he said, India believes that the work of Office of the Human Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) should be in conformity with mandate given by the relevant resolutions of the UN General Assembly.

"We would urge that the Government of Sri Lanka to carry forward the process of reconciliation, address the aspirations of the Tamil community and continue to engage constructively with the international community to ensure that the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all its citizens are fully protected," he added.

Ahead of elections in Tamil Nadu next month, major political parties in the state had urged the Indian government to take a stand against Sri Lanka in the UNHRC session vis-a-vis the accountability and reconciliation resolution.

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