Navi sets March 2014 deadline for Lanka to probe abuses
Thursday, 26 September 2013 01:06
Ravinatha says Pillay has no mandate to make the claim
High Commissioner wants clear timeline for military demobilization
Welcomes northern elections
Says no new or comprehensive effort to independently or credibly investigate allegations
Alarmed at recent surge of violence against religious minorities
Continued attention of HRC on Lanka critically important
By Dharisha Bastians
UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay put Sri Lanka put on notice to conduct credible investigations into allegations of human rights abuses before March 2014, failing which the international community will have a duty to establish its own investigative mechanism.
The UN High Commissioner who was reporting to the Council on her fact finding mission to Sri Lanka in August, said she had detected no new or comprehensive effort to independently or credibly investigate allegations of “concern to the Human Rights Council”.
The much anticipated oral report by Pillay on Sri Lanka was delivered to the 24th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva by Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri yesterday.
Responding immediately after her report was delivered Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ravinatha Ariyasinha charged that the High Commissioner had no mandate to make such a claim.
“The Government of Sri Lanka strongly repudiates the high commissioner’s assertion that if certain concerns are not comprehensively addressed, she believes the international community will have a duty to establish its own inquiry mechanisms,” Ambassador Aryasinha said.
Sri Lanka needed to be encouraged and not impeded, the Lankan Envoy told the Human Rights Council.
In her oral report, Pillay said she was convinced the continued attention of the Human Rights Council to the human rights situation in Sri Lanka was critically important.
Pillay encouraged the Government to use the time between now and March 2014 to engage in a credible national process with tangible results, including the successful prosecution of individual perpetrators, in the absence of which she believes the international community will have a duty to establish its own inquiry mechanisms, the Deputy High Commissioner said delivering the report.
She also called for the Government to initiate a clear timeline on demobilization, disarmament and disengagement of the military whose presence in the north she said was considerable.
Pillay said she was alarmed at the recent surge of incitement of hatred and violence against religious minorities in Sri Lanka. “A visit by the Independent Expert on Minorities would also be helpful, and we hope that this can happen as soon as possible,” her report said.
A full report of Pillay’s findings and recommendations on Sri Lanka’s human rights situation will be submitted to the Council during the February-March 2014 sessions.