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* President apprises UN human rights chief of Sri Lanka's progress on reconciliation
Sat, Sep 23, 2017, 10:54 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Sept 23, New York: Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena Friday held a meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Right Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein on the margins of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.

During the meeting, the President told the High Commissioner that Sri Lanka, as a member state of the United Nations, in accordance with its statutes, is responsibly working for the benefit of the country's people and the process of ensuring human rights and reconciliation is progressing step by step.

"When I met UNHRC SG Prince Zeid al-Hussein this evening, I explained how Sri Lanka is achieving lasting reconciliation step by step," the President said in a Twitter message following the meeting.

The President, recalling that the country has received two years to fulfill the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Council, pointed out that hastening the process will give an undue advantage for extremists and invited the High Commissioner to visit Sri Lanka next year to see the progress.

Explaining the steps taken by the Government of Sri Lanka to ensure human rights and reconciliation to the High Commissioner Zeid, the President pointed out that all steps must be taken considering the country's internal political, cultural factors as well as focusing on international politics.

The President told the High Commissioner that he signed the gazette notification operationalizing the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) before he commenced the trip to the U.S. and its operations will be actively pursued. He also said that a draft bill on a new Constitution was presented to the Parliament.

President Sirisena said that all lands in the Eastern Province which were under the custody of the security forces have now been released and a considerable number of lands in the North too have already been released. For the rest of the lands, measures are being taken to resolve the administrative problems and those will also be released to the people gradually, he added.

The President said all lands in the East which were under the control of security forces have now been released. He stated that a substantial extent of lands in the North also have been released. He said the rest will be released to the people after solving the relevant administrative issues.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights commended Sri Lanka's progress in these matters. He said he will be more satisfied if this journey of Sri Lankan government will be speeded up. Commending the actions taken to establish the Office on Missing Persons, High Commissioner Zeid requested to appoint officers for the OMP from all communities so that every community can accept the actions of the office. He assured that the UN Human Rights Council will give its fullest support to Sri Lanka on this regard.

Earlier this month, the High Commissioner urged the Sri Lankan government to accelerate the pace of fulfilling all the obligations in the consensual resolution adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in October 2015.

Updating on human rights issues in 40 countries at the 36th session of the Human Rights Council on 11 September in Geneva, High Commissioner Zeid urged the Sri Lankan Government to "act on its commitment in Resolution 30/1 to establish transitional justice mechanisms, and to establish a clear timeline and benchmarks for the implementation of these and other commitments."

Addressing the UN general Assembly on Tuesday (19) the President called upon the international community to seriously consider the tremendous progress made by the government towards reconciliation, restoration of democratic freedoms, human rights and the rule of law.

He requested the UN member states to support the slow, but steady march to create a peaceful and prosperous country for its people as the haste will not yield good results and the slow and steady path is the most suitable one.


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