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* Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka disagrees with US statements
Mon, Feb 3, 2014, 08:57 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 03, Colombo: The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has rejected the statements made by US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, Nisha Desai Biswal on human rights issues in Sri Lanka during her visit to the country.

Speaking to the media, Human Rights Commissioner, Dr. Prathiba Mahanamahewa said that he could not agree with the statements made by the US Government.

Responding to the statement made by Assistant Secretary that there is no progress on the implementation of the recommendations made by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), the official told Ceylon Today that the Sri Lankan government has implemented almost all of the recommendations.

He pointed out that the government has set up a Presidential Commission on Disappearances, another Commission to probe the loss of lives and property due to the war since 1982, both of which were recommendations made by the LLRC.

The government will also present the Right To Information Bill and the Victims and Witnesses Protection Bill in Parliament soon, which are also part of the LLRC recommendations, he noted.

He further pointed out that the government has handed out most of the land in the North occupied by the security forces to the rightful owners and drastically reduced the military presence in the North as recommended by the LLRC.

He stressed that some of the LLRC recommendations could not be implemented "overnight".

Disputing Biswal's comment that the respect for human rights and democratic governance continue to deteriorate in Sri Lanka, the official said that apart from the LLRC recommendations, the government initiated a five-year national Human Rights Action Plan in 2011 to address the human rights issues.

The Rights Commissioner said he was speaking in his capacity as the Dean of the Faculty of Law of the Kotalawela Defence University but added that he will comment on the issues in his official capacity after a meeting of the Human Rights Commission when the Commission would deliberate on the comments made by the US envoy.

Dr. Mahanamahewa pointed out that the US was pushing for a war crimes probe with regard to the last stages of the war but the last stage was a humanitarian operation and if the US and the UN want a war crimes probe then it needs to cover the tenure of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka as well.

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