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  • » 08/27/2013, 00.00


    Navi Pillay in Sri Lanka to vet human rights violations

    Melani Manel Perera

    The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is in Colombo at the start of a five-day visit. She plans to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa and make short trips to the country's hotspots.

    Colombo (AsiaNews) - "I have come here not to criticise but to raise human rights concerns," said Navaneetham (Navi) Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as she spoke to journalists who mobbed her when she arrived in Sri Lanka.

    Ms Pillay, who is on an official visit to the country (25-30 August), plans several meetings, above all one with President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Civil society groups hope however that she will travel to those places where the human rights situation is still critical.

    The visit by the UN High Commissioner was in the air for over a year, but was only recently confirmed.

    One of the key points that many activists are hoping to see addressed is related to the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), a special committee set up by the president to investigate the final stages of the civil war.

    According to a UN report, the armed forces committed serious war crimes in the last months of the war (in 2009), including the death of more than 40,000 civilians who died from shelling and bombings as well as cold blooded executions. For this reason, on 21 March the UNHRC passed a second resolution against the country.

    Most people "want Ms Pillay to visit places where human rights have been violated on a grand scale," said lawyer and activist Nimalka Fernando, places like the villages of Mullikulam and, more recently, Weliweriya.

    The High Commissioner herself said she wanted to visit the country's hotspots.

    "Now I am here to assess the human rights situation and I am speaking to both the government and the Tamil society. I am also planning to go around the country as much as I can. And when I go back I will be reporting on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka to the Human Rights Council," she explained.

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    See also

    11/01/2011 SRI LANKA
    Mannar diocese offers proposal for genuine and lasting Tamil-Sinhalese reconciliation
    Bishop Rayappu Joseph and two priests from his diocese submit a report to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), calling for complete transparency on what happened between 2002 and 2009 as a step towards finding an effective and lasting solution to the ethnic conflict.

    02/09/2013 SRI LANKA
    For UN high commissioner, Sri Lanka is moving towards authoritarianism
    United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay expressed this concern at the end of an official visit to the country. Although the government allowed her to move freely, priests and activists have reported threats against them. The UN official also met with relatives of people who disappeared.

    UN finds human rights situation in Sri Lanka ‘alarming’
    In her recent visit the UN Commissioner for Human Rights called for observers to monitor abuses on the island. Minister Samarasinghe rejects the demand and claims government commission doing an adequate job. However, four of its members quit yesterday complaining about its uselessness.

    22/03/2012 SRI LANKA
    UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka war crimes approved
    The motion is adopted with 24 votes in favour, 15 against and 8 abstentions. Across the country, thousands of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians protest against the decision. Interfaith activities are planned to back the government.

    Mahmoud Abbas backtracks, says postponing vote on Goldstone Report a mistake
    The president of the Palestinian National Authority disowns decision taken a week ago in Geneva. Meanwhile the signing of Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal set for 25 October in Cairo is called off.

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