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* Sri Lanka's major Tamil party stands by UN High Commissioner's report
Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 11:49 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 25, Colombo: The major Tamil party in Sri Lanka, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) said the report submitted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanetham Pillai is a comprehensive and accurate depiction of the serious human rights issues in the country.

Welcoming the report, the TNA in a statement said a number of serious concerns High Commissioner raised in her Report to the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka pertain to the entire country.

Among the serious concerns are the treatment of former combatants and detainees, attacks on religious minorities, the attack on dissent and the freedom of expression, the government's dismal record in implementing LLRC recommendations, and the government's disinterest in making progress on accountability.

The Tamil party said it "unequivocally" supports the High Commissioner's recommendation that the Human Rights Council establish an international inquiry mechanism to further investigate alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws, in addition to monitoring any domestic processes for accountability initiated by the Government of Sri Lanka.

"We believe that such a mechanism is necessary in the light of the government's unwillingness to take steps towards accountability."

The Report is based on the High Commissioner's visit to Sri Lanka last August, during which she was able to observe first-hand the issues of concern to victims and survivors in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

The TNA said it is particularly concerned over the impact of the high levels of militarization on the security of women in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

"There are mounting and credible reports of systematic patterns of sexual harassment and violence in highly militarized areas, and we ask that the Human Rights Council take cognizance of this reality in its deliberations on Sri Lanka," TNA said in its statement.

The party said it has consistently opposed the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution which vests exclusive powers in the President over key public appointments.

"Thus the deep politicization of civil institutions, together with the widely acknowledged erosion of judicial independence, seriously undermines any prospects of a credible domestic process for accountability," the TNA noted.

The party stressed that though painful, an international Commission of Inquiry into allegations against both sides is needed for a meaningful reconciliation.

"We are mindful of the important need for all communities in Sri Lanka to reckon with the past in a spirit of reconciliation. We sincerely believe that an international Commission of Inquiry into allegations against both sides will provide our communities the space and environment to come to terms with crimes committed in our respective names."

The TNA said it remains committed to leading the Tamil people through a painful process of introspection, and encourages the government to use the opportunity of an international inquiry to break with the past and meaningfully pursue reconciliation.

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