Oct 21, Colombo: Sri Lanka's human rights record will come under immense scrutiny when the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) later this month begins its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process to review the progress the country made in the promotions and protection of human rights.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's special envoy for human rights, Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe will lead the government delegation to participate in the 14th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Universal Periodic Review in Geneva from 22 October - 5 November 2012.
The Sri Lankan government has presented its national report for the UPR with the amendments to include the latest developments in the country's human rights front, the implementation of the post-war reconciliation commission's recommendations and latest statistics in the rehabilitation, resettlement and de-mining fronts.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process on Sri Lanka is scheduled for 1st of November, 2012. A troika chaired by India and with Spain and Benin as members will review Sri Lanka's progress in the human rights and prepare a report that will be adopted on the 5th of November.
Sri Lanka will be scrutinized in several fronts inter alia actions on international human rights treaties, constitutional and legislative framework, cooperation with human rights mechanisms, implementation of international human rights obligations, freedom of religion or belief, Freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, and right to participate in public and political life.
According to the UNHRC 46 stakeholders have made submissions to the Council on Sri Lanka's UPR process. Among them are 17 joint submissions from international as well as local NGOs.
In addition a host of countries have submitted their questions on Sri Lanka's report to the UNHRC. Among the countries that have already raised questions are Spain, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, United States, Czech Republic, Netherlands, and Denmark.
In their submission, the U.S., among others, has raised concerns over the delay in holding Northern Provincial Council elections, High Security Zones, threats against journalists and the lack of progress in high-profiled human rights violations including the assassination of five students in Trincomalee in January 2006, the execution of 17 French Action for Hunger aid workers in Muttur in August 2006, the assassination of Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunga in January 2009 and the disappearance of cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda in January 2010.
The U.S. has also asked about the status of the Witness and Victim Protection Bill, investigations into the Channel 4 video, and the bilateral talks with the Tamil National Alliance that has been continuing for two years without any progress.
Both the UK and U.S. asked about the status of the recommendations from the LLRC report that were not included in the LLRC Action Plan.
Canada inquired when the Sri Lankan government will address accountability issues through a formal independent process of investigation of alleged violations of international humanitarian law and human rights that occurred during the civil conflict.
The Sri Lankan government has earlier said that it will share the progress it has made in all aspects of the promotion and protection of human rights before the international human rights forum and seek a 'fair and impartial hearing' on its review.