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* Sri Lanka criticizes inclusion of country's rights issues on UN Chief's report on sexual violence
Sat, Apr 26, 2014, 08:12 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Apr 26, Colombo: Sri Lanka has criticized the inclusion of country's human rights and accountability issues in a report on sexual violence in conflict submitted to the UN Security Council (UNSC) by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday.

Sri Lanka expressed its concern to the UNSC that the Secretary General had mentioned the recent UN Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution in the report.

The government has said that it has observed this year's report contains references to the HRC resolution on Sri Lanka (HRC/25/L.1/Rev.1), accountability, and a comprehensive truth and reconciliation commission.

"We are disappointed that such issues, which have no relevance to this issue, have been dragged into this report," the Sri Lankan government has noted.

Sri Lanka told the UN that it should consult with the respective States on all aspects of international actions to combat sexual violence in conflict, including the provision of assistance.

"In this process, respect must be maintained for the fundamental principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Member States," the country stressed.

The Secretary General's annual report on sexual violence includes Sri Lanka among 21 countries where conflict related sexual issues were still a major concern.

The report documents information based on cases recorded by the UN system in 21 countries of concern last year including Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Colombia, Guinea, Liberia, Libya, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Yemen.

The report also identifies 34 armed groups - including militias, rebel groups and government security forces - suspected of rape and sexual violence in conflict situations.

During the press briefing to launch the report Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura told media in New York that the UN is worried and concerned over the incidents of sexual violence in Sri Lanka.

UN Secretary General made recommendation for the governments of concern to work to develop a comprehensive protection and service response for survivors of sexual violence, including reproductive health services, HIV awareness and response services, and assistance in psychosocial, legal and livelihood aid.

In the report UN called on the countries in question, and the international community, to ensure that men, women and children who are victims of sexual violence, and children born of rape get the assistance they need.

Section on Sri Lanka in the Conflict-Related Sexual Violence report

Sri Lanka

78.In my previous report on sexual violence in conflict, I noted that the action plan launched in August 2012 to respond to the recommendations made by the Commission of Inquiry on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation included no action directly providing redress for those affected by sexual violence during the conflict. During 2013, the Government of Sri Lanka committed itself to incorporating more of the Commissionís recommendations into the National Plan of Action for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. In total, 145 of some 285 recommendations, some of which focused on the security of women and children, were incorporated. In my previous report I also noted the continued vulnerability of women and children in areas formerly affected by conflict, partly due to the continued militarization of those areas. These issues remained pertinent during 2013, as women and girls, especially in female-headed households, continued to be vulnerable to sexual harassment and abuse, including at the hands of military personnel (A/HRC/25/23). The Government reports that the military has taken strict action in such cases. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, however, continued to voice concerns in 2013 with regard to accountability in Sri Lanka, stating that the Government has taken limited and piecemeal steps towards investigating serious allegations of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, and none of these have had the independence or credibility required (see A/HRC/25/23, para. 36). Efforts to investigate such allegations fully and to bring justice to victims of the civil conflict, including those reporting sexual violence crimes, thus remain a priority.

Recommendation

79.In the context of dialogue on the establishment of a comprehensive truth and reconciliation commission, I urge the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure that such a transitional justice mechanism explicitly seek accountability for sexual violence crimes and that national authorities put in place the necessary services, remedies and reparations for survivors.

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