Monday, 19 August 2013 00:00
Human Rights Commissioner calls Sri Lanka visit “good opportunity” to see for herself
By Lakmal Sooriyagoda
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay will meet the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) to discuss the country’s human rights situation, said Human Rights Commissioner Dr. Prathibha Mahanamahewa.
The Human Rights Commissioner said that High Commissioner Pillay will be briefed on the progress of the National Human Rights Action Plan on 29 August at the meeting arranged with the HRCSL. “She has not given us an agenda but she may also have questions about the Human Rights Commission’s contribution in developing human rights,” Dr. Mahanamahewa said.
“There are certain areas we have to look into. On November 2012, her representatives visited Sri Lanka and submitted a report after visiting the Northern and Eastern Provinces. We have to make her aware of the steps we have taken so far in protecting human rights.”
He further stated: “As the Human Rights Commission, we have done a great job. By submitting a report, we gave recommendations to the Government over the Universal Periodical Report (UPR). We recommended a right to information bill, a witness and victim protection bill and for Sri Lanka to ratify the covenant against torture.”
The Human Rights Commissioner added that the local Human Rights Commission will be queried about its mandate for the implementation of the LLRC recommendations and how much progress has been made so far.
Dr. Mahanama said that the HRC had received a letter from the Humanitarian Division of the Commonwealth over the impressive steps it had taken over the Weliweriya incident. “Furthermore, we have taken measures to implement the National Human Rights Action Plan with the direct support of the Commonwealth Human Rights Division. The humanitarian division of the Commonwealth helped us have reconciliation programs,” he said.
“It is a good move – she can visit and see what happens here. We have not got this opportunity before. She can get a good idea about over the progress of human rights in Sri Lanka,” the commissioner noted.