President Mahinda Rajapaksa apologised to visiting UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay on Friday for remarks made against her by members of his Government, after one Minister proposed marriage to her and another member of a key ally of the ruling party called her husband a terrorist.
“I was comforted by the President apology on behalf of his ministers,” Pillay told a press briefing at the UN Compound in Colombo at the end of her fact finding mission, she said had been the longest of her tenure.
Pillay hit back against criticism against her by sections of the Rajapaksa Government during her interaction with journalists, saying at least three Government ministers had joined in what she called “abuse” that had crescendoed against her during the week of her visit.
“They claim I am in the LTTE’s pay, that I am the Tamil Tigress at the UN,” Pillay charged.
She rubbished the claims as being both “wildly inaccurate” and “deeply offensive”.
President Rajapaksa told the visiting Envoy during a meeting at Temple Trees on Friday that his cabinet was made up of politicians with different views, the President’s office said in a statement last night.
Pillay also denied claims made by the President that the UN was biased saying that the country claiming to be the most developed in the world had 300 recommendations made against them during their human rights review by the Human Rights Council.
She said independent experts were right now investigating the Guantanamo Bay Prison, Special Rendition Procedures and drone strikes against civilians – all violations the US being accused of.
Pillay said the UN’s role was to hold governments to rules made by 193 governments of countries of the world, including Sri Lanka.
“The Secretary General and I and other officials are civil servants and we operate by the rules and regulations made by Governments. And those rules and regulations if violated is what the UN points out to Governments,” she said.
Some would call that criticism, but that is what the UN does, she explained. “We can’t be praising people all the time,” the visiting High Commissioner said.
“Where there are gaps we then raise a critical voice, but always with the intention to help,” Pillay said.