The scars created by terrorism and conflict are yet to heal in Sri Lanka, outgoing U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Tuesday.
Addressing the 26th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, her last as High Commissioner, Ms. Pillay said her office has put in place a staff team that would be supported by several experts and special procedures mandate holders, to conduct the comprehensive investigation — mandated by the Council — to advance accountability, and thus reconciliation. “I encourage the [Sri Lankan] Government to take this opportunity to cooperate with a credible truth-seeking process,” she said.
Sri Lanka, however, has rejected the resolution accusing the outgoing High Commissioner of being biased against the country. On Tuesday too, Sri Lanka has reiterated its categorical rejection of the Human Right Council Resolution, saying it would not cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)-driven comprehensive investigation.” Following Ms. Pillay’s remarks, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the U.N. in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha said the March 2014 resolution was based on “profoundly flawed premises.”
Many saw a strong resolution coming after Ms. Pillay’s visit and the Sri Lankan government’s response to it in August 2013. At the end of her week-long fact-finding visit to Sri Lanka, she said had observed that the island nation was showing signs of heading in an increasingly authoritarian direction, despite the opportunity that the end of the war presented.
Soon after, making her oral submission at the 24th session of the Council in September, she set a March 2014 deadline for the Sri Lankan government to engage in a credible national inquiry.
However, citing the lack of progress, she called for an international probe before the Council met in March 2014, where a U.S.-sponsored resolution calling for an international inquiry was adopted, with 23 countries backing it.
Wrapping up her speech — in which Ms. Pillay touched upon issues in countries such as Iran, Egypt, Sudan and Nigeria — told representatives of different countries the OHCHR “stands at your side, not in your way. It is a friend that is unafraid to speak the truth.”
Keywords: Sri Lanka human rights