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Pressure grows for action on Sri Lanka

Officials from the European Union and the United States have welcomed the informal discussions at the Human Rights Council in Geneva and called for a speedy process to bring accountability for crimes committed during the warin Sri Lanka.

United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillai used her speech at the opening of the UN Human Rights Council Session (HRC) to criticise Sri Lanka for its human rights record.

Whilst talking about the ‘insufficient regard for human rights’ by the anti-terror measures adopted by several member countries, she pointed out Sri Lanka as a prime example of a state which undermines human rights to combat terrorism.

High Commissioner Navi Pillai added

“This has all too often led to an erosion of rights and fostered a culture of diffidence and discrimination, which in turn, perpetuates cycles of violence and retribution. Sri Lanka is one such case.”

Her comments came after reports indicated the Secretary General’s intention to formally submit the UN Panel Report on human rights violations in Sri Lanka to the Human Rights Council.

Once the report has been formally received a member state can refer Sri Lanka to be officially discussed during the session.

According to diplomats it is likely for action to be taken next year if Sri Lanka cannot demonstrate satisfactory progress on the issues.

US ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahue said

"We continue to urge the government of Sri Lanka to quickly demonstrate that it is able and willing to meet these obligations as it seeks reconciliation. We hope the Sri Lankans will do this themselves but if they do not, there will be growing pressure from the international community to examine other options,"

The request by the UN and the US to act quickly was rebuffed almost immediately.

The government’s special envoy to the UN accused Navi Pillai of partiality, saying that Sri Lanka’s own commission into the allegations, the LLRC must be given a chance.

"It is critical to wait for that body to finish its deliberations and come up with its conclusions in due time," Mahinda Samarasinghe, Rajapaksa's special envoy on human rights, told the U.N. Human Rights Council.

However, various human rights campaigners, including Amnesty International in a damning report last week, have said that Sri Lanka’s own inquiry lacks credibility and impartiality.

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At the UN Rights Council...

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