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UN fully supports Pillay's work in Sri Lanka

2013 Sep 05

The UN stated that it fully supports the work that UN Human Rights Commissioner Navanethem Pillay did while on the ground in Sri Lanka while adding that no one should face intimidation for speaking to the UN.


Speaking at a UN press briefing held in New York yesterday (September 4), Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary General of the UN, Farhan Haq stated that the UN respects and fully supports the work that Navi Pillay was doing while she was in Sri Lanka.


He also responded to questions regarding the alleged harassment of witnesses and human rights defenders who sought to speak to Pillay by stating “Certainly, we believe that no one should face intimidation for speaking to the United Nations.  We also encourage respect for the work of all human rights defenders”.


The journalist cited excerpts from Navi Pillay’s exit press conference statement on how witnesses who sought to speak with her were being intimidated and harassed immediately afterwards while also highlighting allegations that the government had visited the home of a human rights defender at midnight following a meeting with Pillay.


Haq added that the UN may have more to say on the matter in the future but for now these were the standard principles.


Meanwhile, AP reports that New York-based human right organization, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called the government to investigate these allegations of harassment and charged that the Sri Lankan authorities had “gone about business as usual” despite making promises to Pillay regarding unfettered access.


In a statement to the media Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch stated that “It’s outrageous for a government that is hosting the UN human rights chief to have their security forces harass the people who met with her”.


Statements made by Navi Pillay following her visit to Sri Lanka has drawn mixed reactions by lawmakers in Sri Lanka although some government politicians have criticized her for violating her mandate by making political comments.

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