Sept 25, Geneva: The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanetham Pillay has called for the continued attention of the Human Rights Council to the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and will be making recommendations in March next year on appropriate ways the Council could continue that engagement.
Presenting the report on Sri Lanka entitled "Promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka" through her Deputy Ms. Flavia Pansieri, the High Commissioner at the 24th Session of the UNHRC in Geneva on Wednesday, Pillay has expressed hope that the Sri Lankan government will invite the Special Procedures mandate holders on missions to the island.
While expressing appreciation to the government for its invitation and its excellent cooperation during the planning and conduct of her visit from 25-31 August 2013, Ms. Pillay commended the impressive achievements made by the Government, with the help of the international community, in resettlement, reconstruction and rehabilitation in the relatively short period since the armed conflict with the LTTE ended in 2009.
Although the majority of the people displaced at the end of the war have returned, they are facing difficulties resuming their livelihoods, the High Commissioner has said.
Noting the compulsory acquisition of private land in Trincomalee, Mullaitivu, Jaffna and Kilinochchi by the military, Pillay has asked the Government to initiate a clear timeline for demobilization, disarmament and disengagement of military from activities that are meant to be civilian.
While welcoming the Government's move to accept an additional 53 recommendations of the LLRC to be implemented via the National Plan of Action, the High Commissioner suggested holding public consultations on the LLRC plan of action and involving national and international NGOs both in its implementation and independent monitoring on the ground.
She noted that the separation of the police from the Ministry of Defence under a new Ministry of Law and Order despite headed by a retired military general as a welcome step. Also welcomed was the appointment by the President of a new Commission of Inquiry into disappearances.
However, Pillay regretted that there was no new or comprehensive effort to independently or credibly investigate the allegations which have been of concern to the Human Rights Council.
She encouraged the Government to use the time between now and March 2014 to engage in a "credible national process with tangible results, including the successful prosecution of individual perpetrators, in the absence of which she believes the international community will have a duty to establish its own inquiry mechanisms."
Expressing alarm at the recent surge in incitement of hatred and violence against religious minorities, the Rights Chief said her office is ready to assist the new legislation on hate speech proposed by the Minister of National Languages and Social Integration and suggested a visit by the Independent Expert on Minorities.
The High Commissioner has offered the assistance of her office to provide any technical assistance the Sri Lankan Government may require to implement the recommendations of the LLRC and its other obligations.
UN High Commissioner's Full Statement