ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday December 9, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 28

Lanka rejects UN monitors again

The government yesterday rejected fresh calls by the United Nations and leading human rights organisations to set up UN field operations with a strong mandate to monitor the human rights situation. The call came ahead of the sixth sessions of the Human Rights Council in Geneva next week and coincides with Human Rights Day tomorrow.

UN Human Rights Commissioner Louise Arbour made the appeal along with the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the London-based Amnesty International (AI). However, Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe reiterated yesterday the government rejected the establishment of such mechanisms and the position would be conveyed to the human rights groups.

“The government has its own mechanism to monitor human rights violations and there is no need for UN monitoring teams,” Mr. Samaraisnghe said. The HRW and the AI made the demand for the establishment of the UN monitoring mechanism on Friday in a letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa while Ms. Arbour called for the establishment of such mechanism in a letter to Mr. Samarasinghe.

Mr. Samarasinghe in a response to Ms. Arbour ruled out the setting up of such mechanisam and instead asked her to support the national structure to deal with the situation.“The Government does not perceive the necessity for a ‘fully-fledged presence of OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) in the country at present,” Mr. Samarasinghe said in his letter.

“We would accordingly welcome action on your part to strengthen the senior Human Rights Advisor’s (SHRA) advisory capacity to enable SHRA to advise and assist the national reporting structures to ensure credible, reliable and objective reporting that you have stressed as essential,” he added.

Mr. Samarasinghe’s office did not release the letter sent by Ms. Arbuor, but said “other matters you refer” to in relation to the Human Rights Commission were being looked into by the Government.

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