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* State mechanisms to investigate rights violations in Sri Lanka not independent or effective - UN Rights Chief
Wed, Mar 26, 2014, 07:14 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 26, Colombo: None of the various state mechanisms the Sri Lankan government established during the five years after the end of the war had the independence to be effective or inspire confidence among victims and witnesses of human rights violations, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said.

Presenting the report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka to the 25th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva Wednesday, the High Commissioner said an international inquiry is not only warranted, but also possible.

According to the High Commissioner, the report examines the progress the Government has made in implementing the recommendations of its Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), as well as those she formulated in her report which were endorsed by the Council in March 2013, and following her visit to Sri Lanka in August 2013.

Pillay explained that there has been little progress in other critical areas identified by the Council in resolution 22/1 and by the LLRC, notably the need to ensure independent and credible investigations into past violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

Noting that it is important for the UNHRC to recall the magnitude and gravity of the violations alleged to have been committed by the Government and the LTTE during the conflict, the High Commissioner said failure to address the grief and trauma among victims and survivors undermines confidence in the State and reconciliation.

She added that new evidence of rights violations continues to emerge, and witnesses are willing to come forward to testify before international mechanisms in which they have confidence and which can guarantee their protection.

Pillay said her report also provides an overview on recent human rights developments in the country, including attacks on religious minorities and human rights defenders, and on freedom of opinion and expression.

An independent inquiry can play a positive role in eliciting new information and establishing the truth where domestic inquiry mechanisms have failed, she noted.

The High Commissioner recommended the Council to establish an independent international inquiry mechanism to further investigate the alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law and monitor domestic processes.

"This is essential to advance the right to truth for all in Sri Lanka and create further opportunities for justice, accountability and redress," she noted.

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