Sri Lanka Statement
By Ambassador Dr. Rohan Perera, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations
The Official Launch Event
of the United Nations Countering Terrorist Travel Programme
& Technical Interactive Sessions
7th May 2019
General Assembly Hall
11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Secretary General Mr. António Guterres
Under Secretary General Voronkov
High Level representatives
I am pleased to deliver these remarks today and to acknowledge with gratitude the close cooperation between Sri Lanka and the UN Counter Terrorism agencies, as my nation now grapples with a new kind of terrorist threat, and seeks to enhance our domestic security architecture to meet these new challenges.
I am particularly pleased to convey to you Mr. Secretary General, the profound appreciation of the government of Sri Lanka on your prompt response to the horrific Easter Sunday terror attacks that rocked our nation – a nation at peace for a decade following a brutal armed conflict, and which during the past ten years, is on a bold path to justice, reconciliation and a lasting peace.
We are no less grateful to Under Secretary General Voronkov and the Office of Counter Terrorism who have worked with us closely and tirelessly, particularly these last two weeks to prepare for time sensitive assistance, responsive to the needs of Sri Lanka. We also thank Ms. Michéle Coninsx, Executive Director of the Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate who has been closely working with us as well over the years.
In this regard we welcome the proposed visit by a UNOCT/CTED team as a preliminary first step to discuss possible assistance on an interactive advance passenger information/passenger name record system (API/PNR). Sri Lanka’s department of Immigration and Emigration has already taken certain steps towards the establishment of an API/PNR system. Sri Lanka is committed to enhancing the system already in place.
In this backdrop we look forward to working closely in the coming days to formulate a package which would include detailed information with regard to the type of assistance including technical details that would expand on the Counter Terrorism Travel Program tailored to Sri Lanka’s particular needs.
Therefore, as one of the first beneficiary states of this programme, it is with an immense sense of appreciation that we welcome the official launch today of this United Nations Countering Terrorist Travel Programme, that seeks to support member states to enhance their detection capacity to stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters in line with UN Security Council resolution 2396(2017).
Chairperson, Secretary General,
I am pleased to report that following the Easter Sunday attacks the Government of Sri Lanka is taking every measure to safeguard all its citizens, carry out investigations and secure its borders, while ensuring the protection of civil liberties, and continuing to pursue its agenda for peace and reconciliation.
Two local organisations namely the National Thowheed Jama’at (NTJ) and Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim (JMI) with suspected linkages to ISL/Da’esh have claimed responsibility for the Easter Sunday Attacks. Investigations are being pursued to establish the precise nature of these linkages.
Sri Lanka is now in the process of proscribing these two local organisations under emergency regulations, while action is being taken to review the list of proscribed entities and individuals under local legislation giving effect to UNSCR 1373.
Sri Lanka as an immediate priority will promulgate local legislation which will give effect to relevant UN Security Council Resolutions on countering violent extremism and Foreign Terrorist Fighters. In this regard our Mission will shortly seek the kind cooperation of relevant UN Counter Terrorism bodies/Committees seeking expertise and technical assistance as to how best to effectively leverage the UN Counter Terrorism Architecture.
Given the impact of these tragic events including in New Zealand, among others, on the very fabric of our collective civilizations, the international community must join forces in renewing our efforts to combat violent extremism and terrorism that threatens to tear apart our societies, and to cause chaos in order to open up a space for terror to operate. It is apparent that these terrorists having lost territory elsewhere now look for new pressure points to ignite.
Sri Lanka is urgently addressing the issues of radicalisation of our youth and preventing and countering violent extremism. We seek the assistance of the international community in this regard as we collectively respond to these alarming trends in violent extremism.
In this regard, as recommended by CTED following its field visit to Sri Lanka in 2016, Sri Lanka is looking at adopting a whole of government strategy at countering violent extremism and a plan of action to prevent and counter violent extremism and build community resilience throughout the country as a medium to long term strategy. To this end Sri Lanka will hold initial discussions with CTED in the coming days.
Sri Lanka is currently holding discussions with all stakeholders regarding the setting up of a Regional Cooperation Centre on Counter Terrorism in Sri Lanka. A scoping study for the project has already been concluded.
As we continue to face these unprecedented challenges, Sri Lanka is strengthened by the overwhelming assurances of support we have been receiving by the International Community following the recent attacks. With your active support to translate these assurances into practical action, we will face these challenges with courage and determination. (ENDS)