Days after her visit to Sri Lanka, the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay on Monday put the country on notice against reprisals targeting human rights defenders, journalists and communities whom she had met.
Ms. Pillay’s statement is her first official statement to the United Nations since her visit to Sri Lanka last month and refers to human rights status in some 20 countries, including Lanka.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights was addressing the 24th session of the UNHRC in Geneva which got underway on Monday.
Ms. Pillay said that the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s report on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights is before the Council at the current session.
It refers to cases of alleged reprisals, or intimidation, against persons as a result of such cooperation, from June 16, 2012 to June 15, 2013.
“I will be reporting on my observations later in the session, but wish to stress my immediate concern for the protection of human rights defenders, journalists and communities I met during my visit from any reprisal, intimidation or attack,” she said.
Ms. Pillay told the council on Monday that that she was grateful to the government of Sri Lanka for facilitating her recent comprehensive visit, which allowed her to assess the progress being made towards reconstruction, reconciliation and accountability in the aftermath of the war, as well as the broader human rights situation, including religious intolerance, governance and the rule of law.
Ms. Pillay had raised similar concerns and slammed Sri Lanka’s rights record during the end of her visit.
The government had responded by saying that if there were such concerns of reprisals, it should be backed with evidence to be investigated.
Ms. Pillay also warned that Sri Lanka was fast becoming an authoritarian regime.-hindu
Counter Attack from Government
The government today urged the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay not to give credence to unsubstantiated allegations of those with vested interests and agendas, largely driven by certain extreme elements in the Sri Lankan Diaspora.
The Government says it will not add credence to unsubstantiated allegations that are made for political purposes by certain groups with vested interests, who have also done so previously to embarrass the Government, which is in contravention of GA resolution 60/251.
Delivering the national statement at the 24th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the UN in Geneva and Leader of the Sri Lanka delegation Ravinatha Aryasinha said the Government informed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay during her recent visit to Sri Lanka of the need to adopt an objective and unbiased approach to Sri Lanka in fulfilment of her mandate.
The government was responding to the concerns raised by Pillay in her opening With regard to the statement to the Council regarding the safety of human rights defenders and journalists who she met during her recent visit to Sri Lanka.
The Government said it is fully committed to protecting human rights defenders, and in this regard we have already requested the High Commissioner and her office to provide specific information of such incidents, if any. (Colombo Gazette)