Written by Staff Writer
25 Feb, 2014 | 7:20 pm
The government rejected the call by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay “to establish an international inquiry mechanism to further investigate the alleged violations of International human rights law and international humanitarian law during the final stages of the conflict.”
According to a statement issued by Sri Lanka’s Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva, the government said, the trajectory that has emerged with regard to the recommendation of the High Commissioner “reflects the preconceived, politicized and prejudicial agenda which Pillay has relentlessly pursued with regard to Sri Lanka”.
In the annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights titled, Promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka, Navi Pillay states that as new evidence continues to emerge on the final stages of conflict, it is recommended to establish an independent international mechanism.
Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, made public her annual report titled Promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka, on Monday – an 18-page document which outlines the developments, issues, conclusion and recommendations of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the island nation.
In the report, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights acknowledges the progress made in reconstruction and the implementation of some of the recommendations made by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.
She notes in her annual report however, that The government of Sri Lanka has failed to ensure independent and credible investigations into past violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws.
The report also contains updates on the ongoing attacks on religious minorities, and the harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists.
Navi Pillay notes in her report, that the government has not responded to the offers of technical assistance made by the High Commissioner and the special procedure mandate holders and thus recommends that the government of Sri Lanka do the following :
(a) To Finalize laws dealing with incitement to hatred, witness and victim protection, the right to information and the criminalization of enforced disappearances, and revise existing laws in accordance with international standards;
(b) To Repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act and lift the regulations promulgated under it that allow for arbitrary detention;
(c) To Arrest, prosecute and punish perpetrators of attacks on minority communities, media and human rights defenders, and ensure protection of victims;
(d) To Undertake independent and credible criminal and forensic investigations with international assistance into all alleged violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including recently discovered mass graves;
(e) To Establish a truth-seeking mechanism and national reparations policy in accordance with international standards as an integral part of a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to transitional justice;
(f) To Broaden the scope and tenure of the Commission of Inquiry on Disappearances to encompass cases from all parts of the island and all periods of the history of disappearances;
(g) To Publish the final report of the military courts of inquiry, the presidential commission of inquiry of 2006 and the more recent commissions of inquiry to allow the evidence gathered to be evaluated;
(h) To Take further steps in demilitarization, ensure military disengagement from activities that are meant to be civilian, resolve land disputes and promote meaningful community participation in reconstruction and development;
(i) To Engage civil society and minority community representatives more fully in an inclusive and consultative process to support the implementation of the recommendations made by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission;
(j) To Implement the Commission’s recommendation for a national day of commemoration, allow all citizens their right to hold individual or group commemorations, and hold national consultations on the design of appropriate memorialization for the victims of the war;
(k) To Give positive consideration to the offers of technical assistance made by the Office of the High Commissioner;
(l) To Invite special procedures mandate holders with outstanding requests to visit the country in 2014, particularly the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and the Independent Expert on Minority Issues.
The United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner urges the UN Human Rights Council to establish an international inquiry mechanism to further investigate the alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law and monitor any domestic accountability processes. OHCHR stands ready to assist in such a process.
Meanwhile, the government was quick to respond to the annual report which was published on the OHCHR website on Monday.
Issuing a statement, Sri Lanka’s permanent mission to the United Nations In Geneva, strongly rejected the calls by the High Commission for human rights to establish an international mechanism in Sri Lanka.
The response of the government to the draft report of the High Commissioner which was dated 12th February and published at the ohchr website on Monday – highlights the following in an 18 page document –
The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) repudiates the conclusions and recommendations that have been erroneously arrived at in the High Commissioner’s Report as they are based on incorrect and/or unsubstantiated and extraneous sources/material.
While the GoSL has categorically rejected resolution 22/1, it has nevertheless continued to make significant progress in its own reconciliation process, and Sri Lanka has continued to regularly update the Council on such progress.
In this context, GoSL rejects, without prejudice to its position of non-recognition of resolution 22/1, the High Commissioner’s claim that most of the recommendations made in her previous report to the Human Rights Council remain unimplemented.
The trajectory that has emerged with regard to the recommendation of the High Commissioner to the HRC for the establishment of an international inquiry mechanism reflects the preconceived, politicized and prejudicial agenda which she has relentlessly pursued with regard to Sri Lanka.
It may be recalled that just a week following the defeat of terrorism in Sri Lanka, on 26th May 2009, at the 11th Special Session of the UNHRC on Sri Lanka, the High Commissioner in the first instance, called for “an independent and credible international investigation” which was subsequently reiterated by her at the 11th regular session on 3rd June 2009, 14th session on 31st May 2010, and the 17th Session on 30th May 2011.
Hence – It is pertinent to question the factual basis for the High Commissioner’s initial formal call to the HRC for an independent, international investigation and its continuation, in order that the international community not be misled.
The Government of Sri Lanka reiterates its categorical rejection of the Conclusions and Recommendations contained in the High Commissioner’s Report, reflecting bias and is tantamount to an unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign State.
Edited version of the draft has been made public.
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