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Ready to probe Pilay's claims

2013 Sep 02

The government says it is ready to investigate the allegations raised by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay at a press briefing yesterday, where she had claimed that some people she met had been threatened.

Government spokesman Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella however said that Pillay’s office must provide evidence to prove the allegations in order to investigate it.

Rambukwella told the Colombo Gazette that some groups may attempt to discredit the government by either threatening those who spoke to her or making false claims to that effect.

Pillay told reporters at a media briefing yesterday that she had received reports that people in villages and settlements in the Mullaitivu area were visited by police or military officers both before and after she arrived in Trincomalee last week, several people she met were subsequently questioned about the content of her conversation with them.

“This type of surveillance and harassment appears to be getting worse in Sri Lanka, which is a country where critical voices are quite often attacked or even permanently silenced. Utterly unacceptable at any time, it is particularly extraordinary for such treatment to be meted out during a visit by a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. I wish to stress that the United Nations takes the issue of reprisals against people because they have talked to UN officials as an extremely serious matter, and I will be reporting those that take place in connection with this visit to the Human Rights Council,” she said.

Rambukwella however noted that some groups with vested interests may even try to pass false information to Pillay with an ulterior motive.

He said it was clear from the start there were those who had an agenda to achieve during her visit and so she should not be misled by false allegations.

The Minister noted that Pillay was given the freedom to travel and meet anyone she wanted and that opportunity may have been used by those who wanted to meet her and pass false information.

However he said as a responsible government they will investigate the claims she makes if it is formally communicated with evidence. (Colombo Gazette)

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