Lanka says no to UN human rights monitoring body

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Colombo, Oct 13 (UNI) Sri Lanka today rejected UN's idea to set up a Human Rights monitoring body in the island nation to observe the mounting local and international charges of human rights violations.

Minister of Human Rights and Disaster Management Mahinda Samarasinghe said at a joint press conference that Sri Lanka was not even prepared to 'discuss' about it, and that all he wanted from the international partners was the necessary assistance for ''technical corporation and capacity building'' to handle the situation locally.

''The government's consolidated position is that we are not willing to discuss in anyway the UN presence in Sri Lanka for monitoring purposes neither are we ready to discuss the opening of an office of the High Commissioner (HR) here,'' Mr Samarasinghe told reporters in the presence of visiting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour here today.

''As much as we believe in globalization and the need to work with international community, I want to stress the fact that we have our own laws and constitution in the country. We are proud of the fact that we have independent national institutions and all what we need is the technical corporation and capacity building and assistance from our international partners,'' the Minister said, virtually rejecting the observations made by the UN High Commissioner.

In her opening remarks, Ms Arbour had expressed serious concern about the human rights abuses in Sri Lanka including extra-judicial killings, abductions and killings.

She said there was yet to be an adequate and credible public accounting for vast majority of the incidents.

''In the context of the armed conflict and of the emergency measures taken against terrorism, the weakness of the rule of law and prevalence of impunity is alarming. There is a large number of reported killings, abductions and disappearances which remain unresolved,'' she said.

''While the government pointed to several initiatives it has taken to address these issues, there has yet to be an adequate and credible public accounting for vast majority of these incidents,'' the UN High commissioner said.

Contradicting Mr Samarasinghe with regard to his claim of capacity building, she said the current human rights gap in Sri Lanka was ''not solely a question of capacity but was the absence of reliable and authoritative information on the credible allegation of human rights.'' ''People say the LTTE is quick to manipulate information for the propaganda gain. In my view, this only accentuates the need for independent information gathering and public reporting on human rights issues. UN is willing to support the lankan Government in this regard,'' Ms Arbour said.

However, the Sri Lankan Minister rejected her view to set up a UN monitoring mission and said that the government has ''communicated its position very openly and faithfully to the visiting High Commissioner.'' ''People such as Madam Louise Arbour can come and go, but finally it is upto us Sri Lankans to get our act together and travel that extra mile. The permanent solution is not the international experts coming and going but our people being able to do our job properly.

This is where we need the international assistance,''he said.

The government is in the process of discussing ways and means to work together with the UN Human Rights monitoring body in this regard.

UNI

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