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Pillay to make damning statement

2013 Sep 09

Pillay to make damning statement

By Dilrukshi Handunnetti



United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, is expected to highlight the possibility of reprisals and attacks on human rights defenders, journalists and communities she met up with during her recent visit to Sri Lanka, when she makes the opening statement at the 24th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, tomorrow (9).



Pillay is likely to laud the government for allowing her the opportunity of assessing the ongoing reconstruction and reconciliation processes post-war, and making references to the broader human rights situation in the country.



The statement is her first official statement to the UN, subsequent to her visit to Sri Lanka and the nearly 4,000-word draft is in the form of a summary statement referring to the human rights status in 20 countries, including Sri Lanka.



The draft statement's two paragraphs of specific observations on Sri Lanka read: "I am grateful to the Government of Sri Lanka for facilitating my recent comprehensive visit, which allowed me to assess the progress being made towards reconstruction, reconciliation and accountability in the aftermath of the war – as well as the broader human rights situation, including religious intolerance, governance and the rule of law. I will be reporting on my observations later in the session, but wish to stress my immediate concern for the protection of human rights defenders, journalists and communities I met during my visit from any reprisal, intimidation or attack I met during my visit from any reprisal, intimidation or attack.



"The Secretary-General's report on cooperation with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights is before the Council at this session. It refers to cases of alleged reprisals, or intimidation, against persons as a result of such cooperation, from 16 June 2012 to 15 June 2013." Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs stated no Sri Lankan representatives will be taking part in the Geneva sessions commencing Monday.



Rodney Perera, Media Spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, said, only Sri Lankans attached to the UN office in Geneva will be present as "it is not a meeting of such significance to send a ministerial delegation from Colombo." The 24th session of the UNHRC will continue till 27 September.

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