Friday, 27 September 2013 04:12
US notes Pillay’s call for international inquiry in absence of credible local probe
Pakistan says report emanates from politically-mandated process
India hails NPC polls, calls for full implementation of 13A, Japan wants LLRC Action Plan implemented
EU slams senior GoSL officials for undermining Pillay’s work
By Dharisha Bastians
There were mixed reactions at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva after a blistering report on Sri Lanka’s human rights situation was delivered by UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay on Tuesday, with the US, India and the EU strongly assenting with her findings and Pakistan calling the focus on Colombo “politically mandated”.
High Commissioner Pillay in her report issued an ultimatum, saying the Sri Lankan Government should probe allegations of large scale rights abuses before March 2014 or face the prospect of an international inquiry mechanism.
The US delegation to the Council said it noted Pillay’s assessment that absent of meaningful progress on accountability by the Government, calls for an international inquiry will persist.
“We echo the High Commissioner’s concerns, in particular regarding restrictions on freedom of expression, attacks on human rights defenders and journalists, and interference with the judiciary,” US Ambassador Eileen Donahoe told the Council.
The US delegation also said it shared her concern regarding increasing violence and discrimination against religious minorities and the shooting of unarmed protestors in Weliweriya.
Pakistan slammed Pillay’s report saying it emanates from a politicised mandate and ignores the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to remain engaged with the Human Rights Council. The Pakistani delegation said the 2013 UNHRC resolution against Sri Lanka did not emanate from an objective assessment of the actual situation on the ground. “It was the result of a highly politicised discriminatory process,” Pakistan said.
The Indian delegation to the UN hailed the successful culmination of the Northern Provincial Council elections and urged Sri Lanka to remain engaged with the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner. New Delhi said that Sri Lanka had honoured its commitment to the international community to hold elections and it now looked forward to the full implementation of the 13th Amendment and going beyond it in terms of a political solution.
Japan welcomed Pillay’s visit to Sri Lanka and the conduct of the northern election but said outstanding issues remain. “We strongly hope that the Government will implement the LLRC Action Plan and make efforts toward recovery,” the Japanese delegation told the Council.
The strongest criticism of Sri Lanka came from Ambassador Rytis Paulauskas, Permanent Representative of Lithuania, who spoke on behalf of the European Union and said they were dismayed that Government officials in Sri Lanka and other commentators appeared to be coordinating a campaign of disinformation in an attempt to discredit Pillay and distract from the core messages of her visit.
“We are concerned that senior figures in Sri Lanka, rather than building on the potential of cooperation with OHCHR, attempt to undermine its work,” the Ambassador said.