Sept 02, Colombo: A rights group working in Eastern Sri Lanka has accused the Sri Lankan police of harassing them following their meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay last week.
The head of the Catholic human rights group, Centre for Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (CPPHR)operating in Trincomalee in the Eastern Province has said that the police have questioned him after he met with the Rights Chief.
At the end of her week-long visit to the island, Pillay alleged that some people she met during her visit to the North on a fact-finding mission had been questioned by the security personnel.
Responding to Pillay's allegations, Sri Lanka's government spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said the government is ready to probe her allegations if she provided evidence.
Veerasan Yogeswaran, the Jesuit priest who runs the NGO has told AFP that five or six plainclothes policemen visited him at midnight and before dawn, just hours after the meeting with Pillay.
The priest has said the concern was that the security personnel are going to homes at midnight and questioning people.
"People feel harassed and intimidated. Just imagine the plight of the ordinary people when they are visited at midnight by the security forces," the priest was quoted as saying.
Addressing a press conference Saturday, Pillay drew attention to the "disturbing aspect" of her visit, namely the harassment and intimidation of a number of human rights defenders.
She said at least two priests, journalists, and many ordinary citizens who met with her, or planned to meet with her had been harassed or threatened and she received reports that people in villages and settlements in the Mullaitivu area were visited by police or military officers both before and after she arrived there.
The Rights Chief said the harassment of the people she had spoken to is "utterly unacceptable" at any time.
"This type of surveillance and harassment appears to be getting worse in Sri Lanka, which is a country where critical voices are quite often attacked or even permanently silenced. Utterly unacceptable at any time," she said.
The Centre for Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in operation since 2005, offers social, economic and legal assistance for families affected by political violence.