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UN rapporteurs lack calibre and diplomacy - Sri Lanka's justice minister

Rejecting the conclusions of the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson following an official visit to Sri Lanka, the country's justice minister, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe described Mr Emmerson as someone who "lacked cailbre and diplomacy" and accused him of using "false facts" about the Prevention of Terrorism Act. 

Also critical of the previous visit the UN Rapporteur, Monica Pinto, Mr Rajapakshe said, “she also said Tamil are mistreated. These are the type of special rapporteurs who visit Sri Lanka today."

"They lack caliber and have hidden agendas. They think Asians are uneducated and uncivilised and have to follow the West. Very soon, at the available opportunity, I will inform the president, prime minister and the foreign affairs minister about the Special Rapporteurs Emmerson and Pinto."

The Daily Mirror reported that when asked about Mr Emmerson's visit, the minister had replied to the newspaper, "Mr Emmerson didn’t have any diplomatic qualities, basic courtesy and that he displayed an-army-commander-like approach."

“Even during our meeting, he came up with false facts about those detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. When I questioned about the sources of his facts, he only said the sources were ‘reliable.’ I rejected his facts with factual sources,” the minister was quoted by the paper as saying. 

The minister said Mr Emmerson had asked about the admissibility of suspects and detainees' confessions and that he had replied: 

“I reminded him that confessions are admissible in UK as well and therefore, invited him to repeal their laws first. Then he queried about the lack of action against armed forces personnel accused of crimes, to which I responded saying we are simply following British Prime Minister Theresa May. She vowed to protect British troops who fought in Iraq from legal abuse."

Responding to Mr Emmerson's question of whether Sri Lanka would fulfill the commitments made in the UN resolution, the minister repled that the "government would fulfill pledges in due time and respond to the UNHRC in terms of delivering them."

“We don’t have to respond to the Rapporteur in this regard,” he added. 

Mr Rajapakshe also said his government would push ahead with new anti-terror legislation, despite criticism from the Special Rapporteur that the proposed Counter Terrorism Act "would guarantee the continued violation of the human rights of terrorism suspects".

“The laws have to be made here and they have to be approved by our Parliament,” said the Sri Lankan minister. We cannot have others doing it for us.”


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