Wednesday, February 28, 2024

UN rights chief arrives in Sri Lanka for first hand assessment

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Colombo: UN rights chief Navi Pillay on Sunday arrived here on a week-long visit to begin a fact-finding mission during which she would visit former LTTE strongholds, as the international community stepped up pressure on Sri Lanka to address alleged war crimes.

Pillay was received at the Colombo international airport by UN resident officials on her first visit to the country. Her visit came after the government, already under pressure from Canada for a boycott of a Commonwealth summit here in November, dropped public hostility towards her and promised access to former war zones.

A South African national of Indian Tamil origin, Pillay will meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa and travel to former war zones in the northern and eastern provinces.

She will hold interaction with politicians and rights groups, senior judicial figures, members of the National Human Rights Commission and the committee monitoring the National Plan of Action on the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt Reconciliation Commission.

Pillay will provide a first hand assessment on Sri Lanka at the September session of the UN Human Rights Council. She will provide a full formal report in March 2014, in accordance with the resolution adopted by the Council earlier this year.

The UN official’s visit followed the UNHRC’s adoption of two anti-Sri Lanka resolutions in 2012 and this year.

“She will be here on the government invitation which she kept open for two years”, Mahinda Samarasinghe, the Human Rights envoy said.

He said Colombo hopes Pillay would see Sri Lanka’s progress in rights accountability and reconciliation and report objectively at the UNHRC.

As amany as 40,000 people were reportedly killed in the last months of the nearly three decades long conflict between Sri Lankan troops the LTTE rebels fighting for an independent homeland. (PTI)

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